Uruguayan President Wants to Legalize Marijuana, Even If He's Never Tried It

27.07.2013 02:06

Earlier this week, Uruguayan President
José Mújica, a progressive politician who
is pushing a law to legalize marijuana
consumption in Uruguay, confessed that
he has never smoked weed.
"I have never tried it in my life and I
don't know what it is," Mújica told Radio
Carve , a local radio station. He added that
he's aware "a lot of young people have
tried it."
Mújica's somewhat surprising admission
came shortly before he met with José
Miguel Insulza, Secretary General of the
Organization of American States (OAS), to
discuss a recent report on drug
consumption in the Americas. The report
favored drug decriminalization of
marijuana, an initiative that Uruguayan
legislators have been discussing for nearly
a year.
"We don't have any objections against this
process moving forward," Insulza said in
reference to a marijuana legalization bill
in Uruguay. "We don't support it openly
because we don't have a mandate from
[OAS] member countries, but that is the
road that is being followed. The marijuana
debate is now open and it's going to lead
to changes."
Mújica, a former guerrilla fighter known
for his humility and kindness, and the
Broad Front, a coalition of left-wing
parties of which Mújica is a member, are
supporting this bill, which would allow
Uruguayans over the age of 18 to buy up
to 40 grams of weed per month from
state-sanctioned distributors .
The legislation was first introduced in
2012 in order to fight drug consumption
and drug trafficking. Last December, the
government had the necessary votes to
pass the bill, but President Mújica asked
parliament not to vote in the legislation
after a poll revealed that most
Uruguayans did not favor the initiative.
("Don't vote on a law because you have
majority in parliament," Mújica said back
then. "Support has to come from the
The president then charged the bill's
leading supporters with convincing
Uruguayans of the importance of
marijuana legalization. Since then, the
vote has been delayed and legislators
both in favor and against the initiative
have tried to court public opinion
through media appearances and op-eds
in the nation's most important
The vote is now set for July 31, 2013.
According to Uruguayan newspaper El
Observador , the Broad Front now has 49
of the 50 required votes for the bill to
clear the Lower Chamber. The coalition is
still striving to convince Darío Pérez, who
has met with Mújica to discuss the matter.
Other options include José Carlos
Cardoso, a legislator from an opposition
party who agrees with the policy but who
is still unwilling to go against his political
Insulza's visit, largely seen as a show of
support for Mújica's initiative, could well
help secure that 50th vote. On Monday,
the OAS Secretary General said that
legalizing marijuana is a strategy that is
worth trying . He also made point of
highlighting that Uruguay is the first
country where he is presenting the OAS
report "The Drug Problem in the
"What better place to start than here,
where there is already a debate," Insulza