O GLOBO (Brazil), EL PAÍS (Uruguay)
MONTEVIDEO – Uruguayan president José "Pepe" Mujica wants to make his country the world's first to grow and sell pot.
With marijuana consumption already legal in Uruguay, Mujica says that drug-related crime continues to plague the country, and that handing over production and distribution to the government can help break the violence of drug traffickers.
"We are doing this for the young people, because the traditional approach hasn't worked" Mujica told the Brazilian O Globo newspaper. "People won't be able to buy any amount at any shop. The state will have control over quality, quantity, price, and consumers will have to register."
Those who violate state limits on purchasing the drug have to join a drug-rehabilitation program funded by profits from the marijuana sales. Individuals would not be allowed to sell pot, or grow their own plants.
If the proposed bill is passed in Congress, Uruguay will be the first country in the world to have a national government that sells marijuana to its citizens directly. Marijuana consumption is already legal in the South American nation, as well as a growing number of countries around the world.
State Secretary Alberto Breccia, admitted to a local radio station that he had smoked marijuana, which had made him feel "peace, tranquility and joy," according to Uruguayan daily El Pais. "It was a very enjoyable experience."
When asked about why he stopped smoking, Breccia said once was enough, adding he had received the drug as a gift, which he "gladly accepted." "To learn about certain issues, you have to experience them," he said.
The proposed law is part of 15 measures designed to combat crime.