A majority of Uruguayans (64%) are against the bill that legalizes growing and selling marihuana, but 51% are willing to wait and see if the system works before having it rejected, according to the latest public opinion poll released on Thursday. The bill was passed in parliament last December but only with the support from the ruling coalition.
Public opinion opposition to the project and later to the bill remains constant, 65% in 2012; 63% in 2013 and 64% last March according to Cifra pollster. But a special work published on Thursday shows that 51% of Uruguayans feel it's better to make the bill effective to see if it really works, before rejecting it, while 46% clearly want the bill derogated, now!
Looking closer into the results, Cifra believes that the percentage of interviews contrary to the bill is higher than that of those who demand an immediate repeal of the law and that is because drugs' trafficking and consumption has become a major concern for Uruguayans but a majority is also convinced there are no easy solutions to the problem.
A significant percentage of Uruguayans believe it is better to test the bill, which does not satisfy, to see if it can improve the current situation, says Cifra.
The new bill sponsored by President Jose Mujica has triggered international and domestic controversy by establishing that the State will have the control and regulation of the import, export, plantations, harvesting, production, acquisition, storing, trading, distribution and consumption of marihuana and its derivates.
Mujica has consistently argued that he is looking for an alternative to combat drug trafficking since repression has become a lost battle in the whole world and has been so for a long time.
The bill creates the Institute for Regulation and Control of Cannabis, IRCCA, which will be responsible for the registry of those who plant, grow, harvest and consume marihuana. Personal consumption of marihuana has been legal in Uruguay for the last four decades.
Apparently under the new bill, Uruguayans over the age of 18, will be allowed, following a private request to IRCCA, to plant, grow and harvest domestic cannabis or buy up to 40 grams a month in chemist shops. Each home will have up to six cannabis plants and annual production is limited to 480 grams.
Although the price has yet to be agreed, aauthorities have suggested setting the price for marijuana at one dollar per ounce to compete with Paraguayan cannabis that has flooded the black market.
Cannabis clubs will also be allowed with 15 to 45 members and a maximum of 99 plants.
It is strictly banned to smoke pot at the work floor, in health, education and sports places and those who already have cannabis plants will have 180 days to declare them to IRCCA, which will also overview all the stages, from the sowing, growing, harvesting, distribution and sale of the weed.
Any breaking of the rules means fines ranging from the equivalent of 625 to 62.500 dollars, plus temporary closure of the greenhouses and authorized outlets.
The pharmacies can only be supplied by private growers authorized by the government, which will oversee quality and choose varieties. Individuals will also be able to grow up to six plants for personal use.
Uruguay has said it is also considering having marijuana grown on a plot of land controlled by the military to avoid illegal trafficking of the crop. Ten to 20 hectares of marijuana would likely be enough to meet domestic demand, according to preliminary estimates.