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Uruguay: Another Latin American country goes against US drug policy

Uruguay is considering legalizing and regulating marijuana sales in an effort to cut cocaine consumption and remove a significant source of funding for criminal groups, reports InSight Crime.

By Geoffrey RamseyInSight Crime / June 22, 2012

In this 2011 file photo, Uruguay's President Jose Mujica attends a press conference at the presidential residence in Montevideo, Uruguay. Mujica's government plans to take a step beyond legalizing marijuana. It wants to sell it.

Matilde Campodonico/AP/File

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InSight Crime researches, analyzes, and investigates organized crime in the Americas. Find all of Geoffrey Ramsey's research here.

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The government of Uruguay is considering an unorthodox approach to combating drug trafficking: legalizing and regulating marijuana sales in an effort to cut cocaine consumption and remove a significant source of funding for criminal groups.

The administration of Uruguayan President Jose Mujica has announced that it plans to send Congress a proposal for a bill which would legalize the sale of marijuana, but make the government the only legitimate provider of the drug. It is currently legal to possess the drug. Under the plan, the state would sell marijuana cigarettes to adults who signed up to a government register, which would allow officials to monitor purchases. People who attempted to purchase more than a specified amount at a time would be required to undergo drug rehabilitation treatment.

See InSight Crime's map of drug policy across the hemisphere.

According to El Pais, the Mujica government has framed the move as a part of a larger attempt to rein in cocaine consumption in the country. Uruguayan law enforcement has seen a significant rise in the amount of cocaine seized in recent years, usually in the form of cocaine paste, a cheaper and less refined version of the drug similar to crack. If marijuana is legalized and regulated, authorities hope it will encourage drug users to turn to this less addictive drug.

InSight Crime Analysis

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