Uruguay has reportedly passed a series of measures to legalize and regulate marijuana at the state level, giving the government control over the drug's distribution networks, consumer records, and price and taxation, Argentinean news source Infobae.com reported Wednesday.
The country's presidential office did not immediately confirm the report, but said that an announcement later on Wednesday could include information on "the marijuana issue," according to the Associated Press.
According to the AP, local media outlets quoted unnamed lawmakers who said that Congress would legalize marijuana sales as a crime-fighting measure, making the sale of marijuana cigarettes the exclusive right of the government, who would only sell them to registered, of-age users.
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"This measure should be accompanied by efforts to get young people off drugs," ruling party Senator Monica Xavier told local television Channel 12, the AP reported.
The measure hopes to keep profits away from drug dealers and to discourage the Uruguayan population from using harder drugs, RT News reported. The law is expected to go hand in hand with a larger anti-drug campaign, according to RT.
Marijuana use is not illegal in Uruguay, and possession or use of the drug has never been criminalized, the AP reported. A 1974 law allows judges to determine if the amount of marijuana found on a suspect is for legal personal use or for illegal dealing, according to the AP.
Though it is one of Latin America's safest countries, increased homicides and cocaine seizures in Uruguay (including a seizure of 458 kilograms of cocaine in 2007, the largest ever in the country according to RT) have led to more concern about the effect of the drug trade on the region.
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