Although it hasn’t made them very popular with some neighbors, quiet and reasonable Uruguay has decided to get reasonable on policy as well: drug policy. They could become the first country in the Americas to distinguish between soft drugs and hard drugs, legalizing the one that’s less destructive than alcohol: marijuana.
In late June Uruguay took the step many economists and policy wonks have been pushing for decades: state control of marijuana sales. In theory, this will boost government revenues, destroy profits for cartels, and lead to a lot less killing for said profits. Almost everyone expects this to work (prohibition in the U.S. was a good experiment in the opposite direction, with alcohol), but few politicians have been brave enough to try it on a national level.
As any concert promoter will tell you, marijuana is a mellow drug. Pot smokers don’t start fights, they don’t kill or steal to fund their not-very-expensive habit, and they smile a lot. Treating this weed the same as something produced in a lab to be ultra-addictive is like pretending eating too much fresh pineapple is the same as eating too many Pringles.
Will Punta del Este attract even more partying rock bands? Will even more of the toking wealthy elite relocate there? Who knows, but it’s hard to see how this will get more than a shrug from the people already there, expat or otherwise. After all, it’s not like the Dutch have been driven into chaos by being, well, reasonable.
Real the full report here from the BBC: Uruguay Aims to Legalize Marijuana