HomeNewsBriefUruguay President Attempts to Ward Off Marijuana Legalization Critics
BRIEF

Uruguay President Attempts to Ward Off Marijuana Legalization Critics

DRUG POLICY / 13 MAR 2014 BY MICHAEL LOHMULLER EN

Uruguay’s president says marijuana plants with a traceable genetic code will be grown on military land, a step intended to help prevent criminal exploitation of legal crops and alleviate pressure from opponents of the country’s legalization move.

During an interview with Chile’s La Tercera, President Jose Mujica announced marijuana would be grown on land belonging to the armed forces under the country’s scheme to regulate the market for the drug. He noted that there will probably be private production as well, “but under certain conditions.”

The growers will use cloned plants, reproducing the same genetic code in order to make it easy to identify where any given plant was grown. “We don’t want to be producers for exportation, nor complicate the lives of our neighbors,” said Mujica.

Mujica remarked that the implementation of the country’s new legislation will be complex, but nonetheless said he expected the mechanisms for marijuana regulation to be active by December 2014 or January 2015.

InSight Crime Analysis

While the December 2013 approval of the bill to legalize marijuana in Uruguay marked a groundbreaking step towards drug reform, there are still numerous obstacles to its ultimate success, and questions remain as to how the country will effectively regulate the crop.

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

The Mujica administration is also facing serious international pressure over the law, as well as a still-skeptical public at home. Neighboring countries have voiced concerns about Uruguay becoming a marijuana exporter and that legalization in Uruguay could stimulate marijuana production in their own countries, while international bodies such as the International Narcotics Control Board (INCB) have strongly condemned the plans.

Mujica’s comments to La Tercera demonstrate Uruguay is aware of these obstacles and concerns and is attempting to address them.

However, while measures to strictly control production may help with the implementation of the law, they are unlikely to detract from the criticism, much of which is coming from quarters with deeply entrenched positions on the issue. These critics at home and abroad will likely continue working to undermine the law.

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