Here’s the introduction to their piece.
The country now has many legal cannabis clubs, which pool resources to grow copious amounts of marijuana and distribute it to registered, paying members — no doctor’s note required — who can then smoke where they please. Legislation passed in 2013 also allows Uruguayan residents to sign up to grow plants at home for personal use; soon, pharmacies will begin selling small amounts of cannabis to enlisted users across the country.
Some here have criticized the slow, uneven pace of the program, but legislator Sebastian Sabini, one of the main proponents of the law, said that it is far more important to do the program right so that it serves as a model for legalizing other substances and ending the deadly and unproductive war on drugs.
“Latin America is one of the regions which has suffered the most from the politics of prohibition,” said Sabini, sitting in his congressional office in Montevideo decorated with a Che Guevara poster and a flier he picked up while visiting a marijuana shop in Colorado. “We have a low-intensity undeclared war in Mexico, with 25,000 disappeared and 60,000 killed in recent years; we have wide-scale impunity and areas where narco traffickers control daily life. We see drug groups donating to political campaigns, forming alliances with the state and infiltrating our institutions, all of which generates more violence than we already would have as a poor and unequal part of the world.”
The Uruguay program comes as states in the U.S. consider legalizing marijuana. On Tuesday, California, Nevada and Massachusetts voted to legalize pot for recreational use and a similar vote in Maine was too close to call.
In contrast with the United States, Uruguay aims to avoid the creation of lucrative marijuana businesses. Profits are tightly controlled, there are no brands and advertising is banned. It’s an approach Sabini would like to see extended to other intoxicating substances. He hopes that by proving careful regulation can prevent increased usage, decriminalization can be extended to cocaine. He also would like to ban all advertising on alcohol.