A diverse coalition of groups and individuals who support ending cannabis prohibition in Uruguay took to the streets of Montevideo on Wednesday using the occasion of Global Marijuana Day to express their support for a quick vote approving legalization in Uruguay’s senate. After being approved in the country’s lower house in August, the senate vote to legalize cannabis for recreational use by adults in Uruguay is set to take place later this fall, likely in November.
The bill to legalize cannabis was initially put forward last year by Uruguayan President Jose Mujica. Although polling in Uruguay reflects that the measure is not supported by a majority of Uruguayans, and even Mujica himself has spoken about moving forward with cannabis legalization with caution, the bill is expected to be signed into law by the president should it pass out of the senate.
This week in a radio address, Mujica stressed his concern that Uruguay be able to identify and offer treatment to people who suffer from addiction should cannabis be legalized. He added that, in his mind, drug trafficking and the violence associated with it are “worse than addiction.” One of the reasons Mujica proposed legalizing cannabis for use by adults in Uruguay is to remove the profit from the black market sale of the substance, and thereby reduce the violence associated with prohibition.
Groups who support the measure have initiated media campaigns attempting to sway the popular consensus away from cannabis prohibition in Uruguay using television and internet announcements and a poster campaign featuring historical and cultural figures from Uruguay reminding citizens that by “Cultivating freedom, Uruguay grows.”