The Frente Amplio (Broad Front) government of Uruguay, one of the most stable, fruitful and serene experiences of the “new Latin American left”, is going through a very dramatic electoral process with likely profound impacts in the country and in the region. Daniel Chavez appraises the results of the Uruguayan experience and suggests what might be relevant for other counter-hegemonic processes in the region and the world.
With an increasing number of jurisdictions enacting or contemplating reforms creating legal access to cannabis for purposes other than exclusively "medical and scientific," tensions regarding the drug conventions and evolving law and practice in Member States continue to grow.
Up and down the Western Hemisphere, marijuana policy is a growing topic of discussion, and laws are starting to change. In 2014, retail marijuana stores opened in the states of Colorado and Washington, where anyone over 21 years old can purchase a wide variety of marijuana products.
The Organization of American States' (OAS) latest drug consumption report highlights shifting trends in drug use among youths in the Western Hemisphere. One noteworthy trend is changing cocaine consumption among high school students in South America, when compared to the United States -- the region's largest overall drug consumer. While cocaine use among US high school students has declined since peaking in 1998, consumption in South America has increased, most notably in Argentina and Uruguay, and less so in other nations like Chile and Brazil.
As the world prepares for the 2016 Special Session of the United Nations General Assembly on the World Drug Problem (UNGASS 2016), an increasing number of countries around the world now find the regime’s emphasis on punitive approaches to illicit drugs to be problematic and are asking for reform. In this moment of global disagreement, the Brookings project on Improving Global Drug Policy provides a unique comparative evaluation of the effectiveness and costs of international counternarcotics policies and best approaches to reform.
Uruguay’s experiment with legal domestic cannabis cultivation is about to enter a new phase, marking a key opportunity for the country to demonstrate what an effective enforcement model for the law will look like in the future.
A year after Uruguay's historic marijuana law was signed, officials have green-lighted homegrown cannabis, cannabis clubs, and hemp cultivation, but the specifics of its signature provision – a regulated commercial cannabis market – remain unclear.
The 43-year-old war on drugs had never seen such a barrage of opposition as it did in 2014, with successful marijuana legalization initiatives in several U.S. states, California’s historic approval of sentencing reform for low level drug offenders and world leaders calling for the legal regulation of all drugs — all of which cement the mainstream appeal of drug policy alternatives and offer unprecedented momentum going into 2015.
Le groupe de réflexion Terra Nova, proche du PS, a publié un rapport, révélé par Le Monde, intitulé «Cannabis : réguler le marché pour sortir de l’impasse». Il y met en pièces la politique actuelle, «l’une des pires qui se puisse imaginer», et construit des scénarios pour en sortir, notamment une légalisation avec monopole d’Etat qui pourrait avoir un impact budgétaire positif de 1,8 milliard d’euros. Scénarios critiquables, mais qui ont le mérite de parler de la réalité.
Uruguay's politicians who led the charge to legalize marijuana and same-sex marriage appeared to win another ringing endorsement from voters in the South American country. Exit polls placed Tabaré Vazquez of the left-wing Broad Front coalition in the lead in the country's presidential runoff. Candidate Luis Lacalle Pou of the conservative National Party told supporters that he had conceded to Vazquez and wished him well. A win for Vazquez would give Uruguay a third consecutive five-year term with a leftist leader at the helm.
Uruguay could start selling marijuana in pharmacies in March 2015, the head of the National Drugs Board said, although the government had initially been aiming for year-end. A variety of hurdles are preventing the government from making its deadlines in implementing the measures passed into law last December. Even the plan to start selling marijuana in March, when President Jose Mujica leaves office, looks ambitious as the government is still tendering cultivation licenses.
Last week, NBC’s Today Show giddily announced an exclusive: Privateer Holdings, the Seattle marijuana company long acclaimed locally for its straight, corporate image and Ivy-League-educated bosses, was launching “the first global pot brand” based on the legacy of Bob Marley. The company is likely to start selling pot overseas, says Privateer public-relations director Zack Hutson, previously a spokesperson for Starbucks. “We’re in discussions with a distributor in Israel” – a country with a federally legal medical-marijuana system. Hutson also cites Uruguay and the Netherlands as potential early markets.
In Uruguay, licensed cannabis clubs of up to 45 members will be allowed to grow a maximum of 99 plants each year. In August, growing up to six plants of cannabis at home became legal. Each club member can produce no more than 480g of cannabis each year and the club's growing fields cannot be within 150m of a school, college or a drug rehabilitation centre. Legalising cannabis has been a sensitive issue in Uruguay, where voters will be going to the polls in a second round of presidential elections on 30 November. Both presidential candidates have said they will tinker with the new laws if elected.
Julio Calzada is the top drug official in the little nation of Uruguay, which has gained notoriety over the last year for becoming the first country to legalize the cultivation, sale and consumption of marijuana. Calzada, whose party faces a tough re-election battle on Oct. 26, sat down with GlobalPost to discuss Uruguay’s unparalleled legalization experiment. In doing so, the national drug agency’s secretary-general unleashed a few bombshells. Here are the five most interesting things he said.