Uruguayan lawmakers say that creating a legal marijuana market will save money and lives.
Uruguay’s unprecedented plan to create a legal marijuana market has taken its critical first step in the lower house of Congress.
All 50 members of the ruling Broad Front coalition approved the proposal just before midnight on Wednesday in a party line vote, keeping a narrow majority of the 96 MPs present after more than 13 hours of passionate debate.
The measure now goes to the Senate, where passage is expected to make Uruguay the first country in the world to license and enforce rules for the production, distribution and sale of marijuana for adult consumers.
Legislators in the ruling coalition said putting the government at the centre of a legal marijuana industry is worth trying because the global war on drugs had been a costly and bloody failure, and displacing illegal dealers through licensed marijuana sales could save money and lives.