Uruguay’s lower house was preparing to vote on Wednesday night on a sweeping bill to legalise marijuana. If the measure is approved, it will open the way for the authorities to create one of Latin America’s most ambitious nationwide endeavors in overhauling drug policy.
The debate in the House preceded a vote in Uruguay’s Senate, where lawmakers have assured President José Mujica that they have a comfortable majority to approve the legislation. Mujica supports the bill, arguing that it is needed to redirect police resources toward fighting street crime and smugglers involved in trafficking other types of drugs.
Under the bill, people would be allowed to grow marijuana in their homes, limited to six plants per household. They would also be permitted to form cooperatives allowed to cultivate 99 plants. In addition, private companies could grow marijuana under the bill, although their harvests could be bought only by the government, which would market the drug in licensed pharmacies.