HomeNewsAnalysisUruguay Marijuana Polls Good News for Regional Proponents
ANALYSIS

Uruguay Marijuana Polls Good News for Regional Proponents

DRUG POLICY / 10 SEP 2013 BY GEOFFREY RAMSEY EN

While public opinion remains largely opposed to marijuana regulation in Uruguay, a new poll shows support for the bill is growing, especially among likely voters for the ruling FA coalition, which could be good news for countries hoping to follow Uruguay's drug policy example.

On September 2, leading Uruguayan pollster Cifra published the results of a new survey on marijuana regulation carried out from August 15-24, which brought good news for supporters of the bill. The polling firm found that 61 percent of the country was opposed to the measure, a five-point drop since it was first proposed by President Jose Mujica in July 2012. The latest poll confirms that there has been a definite, albeit slight, downward trend in disapproval of the law in the past year.

marijuana1

The Cifra poll also found that, while conservative Colorado and National Party voters remain overwhelmingly against it, support for the bill has grown among individuals who identify as Frente Amplio (FA) voters. For the first time since the bill was presented, more FA supporters are on board with marijuana regulation (47 percent) than against it (40 percent).

marijuana2

InSight Crime Analysis

The new Cifra poll is good news for advocates of marijuana regulation in Uruguay. It provides Regulacion Responsable -- the coalition of civil society groups which has banded together to support the bill -- with a useful narrative to present to legislators sitting on the fence about the initiative. Although it is expected to face a far easier time in the Senate, with no FA senators likely to oppose it, some are sure to have private doubts about the wisdom of supporting such an unpopular initiative. They may have fewer qualms with a relative majority of their party's supporters now backing the bill.

However, the poll did not bring all positive news for supporters. Alarmingly, some two-thirds of respondents (65 percent) said they would "probably" or "definitely" sign a petition to hold a referendum on the bill. Under Uruguayan law, if the opposition presents signatures from 2 percent of the electorate (roughly 52,000 people) in January or February of next year, a preliminary vote on whether to hold a referendum could take place in March or April. If over 25 percent of the electorate participates in that vote, the marijuana regulation law could face a referendum in July 2014.

Fortunately for regulation advocates, the odds of this happening are very slim. Although the opposition was able to gather enough signatures to trigger a preliminary vote in June on whether to hold a referendum on a controversial abortion decriminalization law passed last year,  this ultimately failed. Only 8.8 percent of the electorate turned out, despite the fact that over 50 percent of those polled had said they would participate. If the opposition could not mobilize enough people to come out against abortion, a highly emotional issue, it is unlikely that they will be able to do so for marijuana, and the Frente Amplio is counting on this.

SEE ALSO: Uruguay: Marijuana, Organized Crime and the Politics of Drugs

That the bill is unlikely to be removed via a referendum is also good news for international actors looking to Uruguay to provide a new drug policy model. Lawmakers in Mexico, for instance, have directly cited Uruguay's initiative as the inspiration for a bill that would center around authorizing membership clubs and cultivation for personal use.

If the bill survives the opposition's attempts to strike it from Uruguay's lawbooks, it will also provide an interesting laboratory to examine the effect of marijuana legalization on insecurity and organized crime. The Uruguayan law will regulate every aspect of the illicit market for the drug (production, sale and distribution), which currently brings in around $35 million to criminal groups. If it succeeds in lowering the country's rising crime rate, it will likely fuel the arguments of those calling for more relaxed marijuana laws in Mexico and elsewhere in Latin America, like Colombia and Guatemala.

share icon icon icon

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

What are your thoughts? Click here to send InSight Crime your comments.

We encourage readers to copy and distribute our work for non-commercial purposes, with attribution to InSight Crime in the byline and links to the original at both the top and bottom of the article. Check the Creative Commons website for more details of how to share our work, and please send us an email if you use an article.

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

Related Content

BRAZIL / 16 MAR 2022

Rocco Morabito’s story has all the makings of a great film script. The Italian mob, tons of cocaine, exotic destinations,…

CHILE / 16 SEP 2022

Chile has recently seized several new psychoactive substances (NPS), highlighting the growing diversity of its drug markets.

ELITES AND CRIME / 31 AUG 2022

Is Uruguay ready to bring down its first serious criminal threat, the Primer Cartel Uruguayo, and its founder, Sebastián Marset?…

About InSight Crime

WORK WITH US

Open Position: Full Stack WordPress Developer

28 NOV 2022

As Full Stack WordPress Developer You Will: Work collaboratively with other developers and designers to maintain and improve organizational standards.Demonstrate a high level of attention to detail, and implement best…

THE ORGANIZATION

Join Us This #GivingTuesday in Exposing Organized Crime

24 NOV 2022

For over twelve years, InSight Crime has contributed to the global dialogue on organized crime and corruption. Our work has provided policymakers, analysts, academics, journalists, and the general public with…

THE ORGANIZATION

Like Crime, Our Coverage Knows No Borders

18 NOV 2022

The nature of global organized crime means that while InSight Crime focuses on Latin America, we also follow criminal dynamics worldwide. InSight Crime investigator Alessandro Ford covers the connections between Latin American and European…

THE ORGANIZATION

Using Data to Expose Crime

11 NOV 2022

Co-director Jeremy McDermott made a virtual presentation at a conference hosted by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC). The ‘Sixth International Conference on Governance, Crime, and Justice…

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime ON AIR

4 NOV 2022

InSight Crime Co-director Steven Dudley was interviewed for the podcast The Rosenberg Case: A Tale of Murder, Corruption, and Conspiracy in Guatemala, which explores the potential involvement of then president, Álvaro Colom,…