MONTEVIDEO – Uruguayan President Tabare Vazquez emphasized on Tuesday the importance of the scientific basis provided by academia about the risks of marijuana use, within the framework of the public debate on the issue that has been under way since the legalization of the drug in this country.
The president, an oncologist by training, in a speech at the “Evidence and risks of cannabis use” forum, said that although this is a “very important” issue, and currently much under discussion in Uruguay, it is often the case that in that discussion scientific arguments are ignored.
“Oftentimes there is more headstrong (advocacy) in what is expressed rather than a deep scientific rigor that supports many of the assertions we’ve been hearing recently,” Vazquez said.
The president also emphasized that academia can collaborate in a “very important and well-founded” way toward providing the public with information of the evidence both of the health risks of cannabis use as well as its palliative properties for treating different illnesses.”
On the other hand, Vazquez said that the initiative for the forum arose within the framework of the government’s preparations for the World Health Organization’s Global Conference on Noncommunicable Diseases that will be held in Montevideo in October.
The Uruguayan leader said that the conference will be the “prelude” to the next UN General Assembly, given that it will deal with the “central issue” that all governments will “face” in 2018.
Vazquez said that noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) are responsible for almost two-thirds of the sickness and death in the world, which costs tens of millions of lives, and thus they constitute a “human tragedy” that can be avoided by more closely studying the causes.
Among other things, he emphasized the problems of a sedentary lifestyle, obesity and substance abuse.
Among the speakers at the conference are the coordinator of the Uruguayan Observatory on Drugs, Hector Suarez, toxicologist Alba Negrin and Universidad de la Republica psychiatry professor Pablo Filitz.