CHANGE YOU CAN BELIEVE IN: Uruguay Legalizes Marijuana To Fight Crime And Fund Rehabs


WALL STREET JOURNAL: Uruguay is planning a novel approach to fighting rising crime: having its government sell marijuana to take drug profits out of the hands of dealers. Under the plan backed by President Jose Mujica’s leftist administration, only the government would be allowed to sell marijuana and only to adults who register on a government database, letting officials keep track of their purchases over time. Profits would reportedly go toward rehabilitating drug addicts. MORE

LATINO FOX NEWS: Uruguay’s government has opted for the “regulated and controled legalization” of marijuana in the South American country as a crime-fighting measure and pledged to lobby against the current global drug-war strategy in international forums. The prohibition of “certain drugs” in Uruguay is creating “more problems than the drugs themselves,” Defense Minister Eleuterio Fernandez Huidobro said Wednesday, noting that other similar situations in neighboring countries have had “disastrous” consequences.The minister referred to the “dramatic situation” triggered by drug trafficking in “other Latin American countries such as Mexico, Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Colombia, Brazil, and now it’s starting in Ecuador.” “We don’t want the same thing to happen to us in Uruguay,” the defense minister said. MORE

RELATED: Ironically, around 4:20pm (eastern) yesterday, the phones lit up at NORML with numerous newswire services and major media outlets contacting the organization about a bill in Uruguay that appears to be on greased tracks to pass in the legislature and signed into law by President Jose Mujica as the government itself is proffering the reform legislation. If Uruguay moves forward, the country will become the first since the signing of the Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs in 1961 that has moved forward with a tax-n-regulate policy for non-medical access to cannabis products. The country previously decriminalized cannabis possession in the 1970s. MORE

MEANWHILE, BACK IN THE LAND OF THE FREE: Rep. Jared Polis (D-CO), a staunch advocate for the legalization of medical marijuana, rebuked Michele Leonhart, the head of the Drug Enforcement Agency, yesterday at a Congressional hearing because she would not say if crack is worse than marijuana. Polis grilled Leonhart, ticking off a list of illicit drugs — including crack, meth, and heroin — and asking whether each was just as bad for a person as smoking marijuana. Leonhart refused to concede that marijuana has significantly fewer potential health risks, or that medicinal use of pot might alleviate the high numbers of patients who struggle with addiction prescription drugs, which have much higher health risks:

POLIS: Is crack worse for a person than marijuana?

LEONHART: I believe all the illegal drug –

POLIS: Is methamphetamine worse for somebody’s health than marijuana?

LEONHART: I don’t think any illegal drug –

POLIS: Is heroin worse for someones health than marijuana?

Again, all the drugs –

I mean, either yes, no, or I don’t know. I mean, if you don’t know, you can look this up you should know this as the chief administrator for the Drug Enforcement Agency. I’m asking you a very straightforward question. Is heroin worse for someone’s health than marijuana?

LEONHART: All the illegal drugs are bad.

Does this mean you don’t know?

LEONHART: Heroin causes an addiction that causes many problems that’s very hard to kick.

POLIS: Does that mean that the health impact is worse than marijuana, is that what you’re telling me?

LEONHART: I think that you are asking a subjective question. MORE

PHAWKER: Mr. President, why is this knucklehead Bush appointee still in charge of the DEA?