The government of Uruguay [BBC backgrounder; JURIST news archive] on Friday presented to its national congress a bill to legalize the production and sale of marijuana in the country. Uruguay President Jose Mujica [official website, in Spanish] stated that the bill is a measure designed to decrease the violent crime [Reuters report] associated with marijuana, adding that its detrimental effects are less harmful than the crimes arising out of the black market that currently sells marijuana illegally. The bill limits sales to individual citizens to 30 grams, or about 1 ounce, per month, while sales to foreigners are prohibited in order prevent the country from attracting marijuana-using tourists. The production and sale of marijuana would be solely the responsibility of the government, which has the obligation to warn citizens of any harms associated with marijuana consumption. The government estimated that Uruguay has to produce around 27 tons of marijuana annually to meet current demand.
Marijuana use has created legal controversy around the world, especially in the US. In June the Chicago City Council [official website] voted to decriminalize [JURIST report] the possession of small amounts of marijuana, detailing that police officers may issue tickets to individuals found to be in possession of 10 grams of marijuana or less. In May the Connecticut Senate passed a bill [JURIST report] allowing citizens to obtain marijuana for medical use under certain conditions, making Connecticut the seventeenth state to allow sale of marijuana for medical use. Other states that have passed similar laws have run into trouble with conflicting federal laws regulating the production and sale of marijuana. In March the US District Court for the Eastern District of California [official website] dismissed a suit [JURIST report] challenging US Attorneys' authority to prosecute medical marijuana providers in California. In January the US District Court for the District of Montana [official website] ruled [JURIST report] that the state's laws allowing the sale of medical marijuana did not protect dispensers from federal prosecution. Connecticut has nevertheless been taking steps toward legalization of marijuana, last year passing a law decriminalizing possession [JURIST report] of small amounts of marijuana.