Uruguay's Buttoned-Down Version of Marijuana Legalization



Last week Uruguay, the first country to legalize marijuana, unveiled its rules for getting high, which are notably stricter in several respects than the regulations imposed by Colorado or Washington. Every consumer has to register with the government and pick one of three options for obtaining marijuana: growing it at home (up to six plants per household), joining a club consisting of 15 to 45 people growing no more than 99 plants for their own use, or buying up to 10 grams (about a third of an ounce) per week from a specially licensed pharmacy. No matter which option you pick, you may possess no more than 480 grams (about a pound) over the course of a year, so if you grow at home or in a club you'd better hope your plants are not too productive.

By comparison, Colorado and Washington both allow purchases of up to an ounce at a time, with no registration and no weekly or yearly limit. Colorado allows home cultivation (up to six plants per person) in addition to retail sales, and you can keep whatever those plants produce in the location where you grow them (or share it, up to an ounce at a time, with other adults, "without remuneration"). One way in which both states are stricter than Uruguay: Their legal age for purchase and possession is 21, while Uruguay's is 18.

Uruguay is banning all marijuana advertising, an option that is not available in the United States due to constitutional protections for freedom of speech. Even the restrictions imposed by Colorado and Washington may be vulnerable to challenge under the free speech guarantees of those states' constitutions, if not under the First Amendment. Uruguay's constitution does declare that "the expression of opinion on any subject by word of mouth, private writing, publication in the press, or by any other method of dissemination is entirely free, without prior censorship." That freedom, I gather, does not include opinions like, "Our Kurple Fantasy is the best!" 

Over all, Uruguay's version of marijuana legalization, which is supposed to be up and running by the end of the year, is decidedly more buttoned down than Colorado's or Washington's, and that is the way President Jose Mujica likes it. In a recent interview with the Associated Press, the former Marxist revolutionary criticized Colorado's approach as excessively loose, saying "it's a complete fiction what they do" to control consumption. "No addiction is good," Mujica said. "We aren't going to promote smokefests, bohemianism, all this stuff they try to pass off as innocuous when it isn't. They'll label us elderly reactionaries. But this isn't a policy that seeks to expand marijuana consumption. What it aims to do is keep it all within reason, and not allow it to become an illness."

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  1. Scotty is the president of Uruguay?

    1. OMG i thought i the same thing!!

      1. Jinx! You owe me a Saurian brandy.

      2. Ah cain’t warrik miracles, Cap’n, ah’m givin’ her all she’s…all she’s…ach, all these buttons and blinkin’ lights look sae pretty…and I bet I can appreciate them more by eatin’ this bag o’ Cheetos…

        1. I cahn only inflate the currency so much before she blows, captain!

  2. This guy lives on his farm with his beloved three-legged dog.

    “The canine companion lost one foot when Mujica accidentally rolled over it with his tractor. She now goes everywhere with the president and they seem totally devoted to each other.”


    1. There’s a metaphor about government in there somewhere.

      1. Government causes a problem, fixes it poorly, and then expects absolute dog-like loyalty.

        1. Well done.

        2. and receives it completely

  3. But this isn’t a policy that seeks to expand marijuana consumption. What it aims to do is keep it all within reason, and not allow it to become an illness.

    TOP MEN.

    1. Smoking weed is now an illness?

      I don’t get it with these people.

      1. You know what’s an illness? Being power-hungry.

  4. Uruguay’s Buttoned-Down Version of Marijuana Legalization

    Washington’s buttoned-down version, Colorado’s buttoned-down version…

  5. Mujica you are an illness, you pile of seething fuck your own citizens up their collective asses with your limp-dicked form of tyranny.

    Collectivists are generally human brain garbage; otherwise known as boogers.

    1. I have to admit, I kind of like Mujica.

      He is a nutbar leftist, but unlike most he has a personal modesty confirming that he really does believe what he preaches, he does care about aspects of his ideology beyond wealth envy (e.g., MJ legalization), and seems like an all-around decent guy. In Latin America as in the US, that is quite rare.

      I’d say his US equivalent is Jared Polis.

    2. You can do a lot worse than Mujica. He’s better than Rousseff, and he did sort of legalize MJ in Uruguay. He also has a burning personal hatred of Argentina’s president and referred to her late husbando as ‘The Cyclops’ in a hilarious ‘mic-on’ moment.

  6. So if I were to do some MJ tourism, do I go to CO or to WA?

    1. Since WA stores aren’t open yet, CO is really your only choice. Once the WA stores open, it’ll just be a question of whether you want to go to Denver or Seattle. CO seems like they’re doing it smarter than WA besides doing it faster, though.

  7. What it aims to do is keep it all within reason

    I call bullshit on this policy. If it were truly aiming to keep it all within reason it would allow growing only four large or eight small plants per single household (half that for an apartment) or joining a club consisting of 5 to 500 people growing no more than 1.5 times the median age of the people in the group plants for their own use, and drop the last option except for senior citizens and tourists with Down Syndrome.

  8. I’ll be interested to see what happens when somebody finally tries real, full legalization – just like beer. When you can go to the regular store like a Walmart or Walgreens and pick up a professionally prepared product with predictable contents and quality. Will the world come to an end with all of the children hopelessly addicted? Will everyone die from all of the DUI accidents?

    Or will life go on as before, with young people partying 3 nights a week and older folks enjoying a couple of joints with their friends while watching the game? Who knows?

    But I know which line I’d place my bet on.

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