Uruguay took a major step on July 31 towards becoming the first country in the world to put its government at the centre of a legal marijuana industry.
President Jose Mujica's Broad Front coalition narrowly squeezed the measure through the lower house of Congress after 13 hours of debate, with all 50 government deputies overriding the 46 opposition MPs present. The measure will now go to the senate, where it is expected to pass.
Supporters of the change argued that the “war on drugs” has been a bloody failure and that legalised, regulated drugs are needed to stem the rising death toll from illegal trafficking.
Under the proposals the government would license growers, sellers and consumers, setting up a registry to stop people buying more than 40g a month.
Opposition MPs claimed that marijuana is a gateway drug and that legalising it would lead to more violent crime.