The South American country of Uruguay may fully legalize marijuana. A new bill that should soon be sent to the legislature would legalize, highly regulate, and tax cannabis. Marijuana would be sold but only by the government, similar to how some Nordic countries and several states in the USA control liquor sales. From The Telegraph:

Under the proposed plans, the state would sell marijuana to citizens, who would have to register on a database. It would also impose a maximum of ‘marijuana cigarettes’ that can be consumed – reported to be 40 per month.

Those who exceed that consumption level will be sent to rehabilitation centres, to be financed by the government with taxes from marijuana sales.

Defending criticism of the announcement, José Mujica, the Uruguayan president, told a Brazilian newspaper: “Uruguay is not proposing a legalisation that allows anybody to go to a shop and buy the amount of marijuana that he likes. The state will control quality, quantity and price.

Uruguay already has a very progressive attitude towards marijuana, possession of cannabis for personal use is not a crime there. Adopting full legalization, though, would be an important big step for marijuana reform, not just in Uruguay but world wide.

In a few countries marijuana’s commercial sale in regulated stores is tolerated; but even in the Netherlands, where cannabis coffee shops are common, its sale is still technically illegal although it is not enforced.

If Uruguay successfully legalizes marijuana it could serve as an example to the rest of Latin American. There is currently a growing debate in much of the region about legalizing and regulating drugs to deprive violent cartels a huge source of their income. One country successfully implementing reform could encourage others to follow.