Uruguay, free cannabis laboratory


Posted today at 12:45 p.m., updated at 3:53 p.m.

A pungent smell floats on the esplanade of the town hall of Montevideo. A few dozen young people came to show their support for the demonstrations in Chile. Among them, Valentina Almiron, 29, and Justino Muñiz, 28. They exchange a calabash of mate, the essential local infusion, and a joint of cannabis conscientiously rolled under the noses of the police stationed a few meters away. Valentina and Justino do not remember ever having to hide: cannabis use was decriminalized in 1974, in the midst of a military dictatorship.

What has changed is how you get it. "I used to go to a boca", an illegal point of sale, from a neighborhood dealer, remembers Valentina. Today I'm going to the pharmacy. " In 2013, Uruguay became the first country in the world to regulate the cultivation, production, distribution and sale in its territory of cannabis – including recreational.

Read also In Uruguay, cannabis is now bought in pharmacies

Law 19.172, passed on December 20, 2013, provides for recreational, medicinal, cosmetic or research uses of cannabis, with the objective of " counter the devastating health, social and economic consequences of problematic use of psychoactive substances, and reduce the incidence of drug trafficking and organized crime. "

This law was the baby of José "Pepe" Mujica, a former guerrilla who became head of state between 2010 and 2015 and nicknamed by the press "the poorest president in the world" because he gave 90% of his salary to NGOs, and because his somewhat crude manners and his outspokenness shocked the bourgeoisie. Marriage for all was him. The legalization of abortion, too. For cannabis, he had to scrap, and not only in his country.

At the United Nations, the battle was tough. In April 2014, Raymond Yans, then president of the International Narcotics Control Board (INCB), accused the Uruguayan authorities of adopting "Pirate behavior" in the face of international agreements. "You have to tell this old man to stop lying!" "replied President Mujica, who is thirteen years older than the UN official.

Deprive dealers of their "basic product"

Several factors explain the Uruguayan vote in 2013. First, the population of this progressive and secular country, very attached to individual freedoms (Church and State have been separated since 1918 and women have voted there since 1927), is traditionally more cannabis user than the rest of the population. explains Marcos Baudean, sociologist, professor at the ORT University of Uruguay and member of Monitor Cannabis – a team of academics from the Faculty of Social Sciences at the University of the Republic who studies law enforcement.


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