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.
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.
The Uruguayan government has unveiled long-awaited regulations for its recreational marijuana market — a move that steers the tiny nation of 3.3 million people away from the prohibitionist war on drugs, with its disastrous consequences in Latin America, and toward a drug policy based on improving public health and security. Although Uruguay’s Congress approved the measure in December — becoming the first country in the world to legalize recreational pot use — it was just this week that the government of President José Mujica announced all the details.
Juan Andres Palese was using a fake name in public when he opened Uruguay’s first store dedicated to cultivating marijuana, where he offered growing equipment and advice but no illegal plants or seeds. Now that President Jose Mujica’s plan to create and regulate the world’s first national marijuana market has the force of law, Palese’s got much bigger plans.
Juan Vaz, an Uruguayan activist and government aide who has been jailed for growing marijuana in his home, says it's time to end a contradiction that lets people in his country smoke pot but bans its sale or cultivation. The proposal formally introduced to Congress last week would create a National Cannabis Institute with the power to license people and companies to produce marijuana for recreational, medical or industrial uses.
When she was 66 years old, Alicia Castilla was put in jail for three months for cultivating marijuana, which she used to help her sleep better. In this video testimony, she talks about the suffering caused by her imprisonment in Canelones (an Uruguayan prison) and her experience with the justice system in Uruguay.