Uruguay has long been at the vanguard of social reform in Latin America. Today, it is on the verge of passing into law one of its most radical ideas yet.
The Broad Front – the center-left coalition that holds power – is proposing a state monopoly over the production and distribution of marijuana, making Uruguay the first national government to sell cannabis directly to citizens. The government says the measure is necessary to combat rising drug-related crime, decrease health risks for users, and counter ineffective US policies on drugs. But within Uruguay, interest groups have labeled the legislation totalitarian, while some international bodies argue it breaches global conventions.
"We're putting this forward as international policy," says Sebastian Sabini, president of the parliamentary commission created to debate the bill. "The war on drugs has failed. There are more consumers and more violence."