MONTEVIDEO – Legal marijuana will become common around the world within the next 30 years, putting drug traffickers out of business, Uruguayan President Jose Mujica said Thursday.
Drug trafficking “has become a market dominated by monopolies controlled by those willing to do anything,” Mujica said in a radio interview. “That’s why we need to confront them with the laws of the market, stealing the market away from them and leaving them with no business.”
Mujica, who will be succeeded March 1 by Tabare Vazquez, sponsored legislation, passed by Congress in December 2013, that legalizes and regulates the cultivation, distribution and sale of marijuana in Uruguay.
“I bet that in 20 or 30 years there will be massive legal trade of all this trash around the world,” he said. “Not because they (drugs) are good. They are harmful and all addictions are bad. I do not defend it and I am against it, but we won’t prevent it with current policies. That’s the point.”
Mujica said the debate about legalizing marijuana will be long, with advances and retreats, but the path ahead “is not to rely only on repression.”
“We need to repress (drug trafficking) but we need also to do other things,” he said. “It is a complex problem.”
One year after the marijuana legislation was passed, Uruguay has roughly 1,200 registered marijuana growers and 500 cannabis clubs, each with up to 45 members each.
But the establishment of a system for retail sales of marijuana remains stalled by arguments over whether pharmacies are the appropriate outlet for pot.