Lawmakers Give Legalising Cannabis The Green Light

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Written By Mahmoud Sarvari

Lawmakers Give Legalising Cannabis The Green LightUruguay’s lawmakers taking the first steps to legalise growing, selling and smoking cannabis may be the green light for a new look by many nations at how they regulate drugs.

The new laws will allow growing plants at home, buying from licensed shops or signing up with a cannabis club to buy the drug from suppliers.

The signs are the government in Uruguay has grown tired of financing the fight against drugs and wants to throw in the towel.

Legalising cannabis, they argue, brings the market out into the open and away from criminals.

Official figures reveal just over 8% of Uruguayans smoked a joint in the past 12 months.

Who smokes the most?

Statistics from the United Nations reckon 180 million worldwide aged between 15 and 64 years old smoked cannabis last year. The figure is rising – up from 160 million five years ago.

Countries that top the cannabis smoking league include New Zealand, Canada and Italy.

The US comes in fourth. Last year, state lawmakers in Colorado and Washington voted in favour of relaxing cannabis laws, while many states allow medical use.

The cost of policing drugs is considered disproportionate to politicians battling to balance budget deficits and desperately looking for cuts.

US government figures suggest the nation spends almost £35 billion a year on drugs enforcement.

Add to that the cost of keeping prisoners convicted of drugs related offences in federal jails, and that cost spirals by billions more.

It’s a fact that the US jails more prisoners than Britain or China, and that half of them are behind bars for a crime directly related to drugs.

Gateway drug

Politicians and scientists are turning away from the attitude that marks out smoking cannabis as a gateway to harder drugs.

The United Nations figures simply do not reflect this. If the cannabis user base is somewhere around 180 million, the number of hard drug users would number many more if their road to ruin started with smoking a joint.

A change in approach may well be on the way, with Uruguay in pole position.

The Organisation of American States (OAS), a regional forum for discussing joint policy throughout North, Central and Latin America, recommended governments should consider decriminalising cannabis.

One of the main reasons behind the mood change is parents are worried about their children picking up a criminal record for puffing a joint that is a stigma for the rest of their lives.