Uruguay, 1st Nation Worldwide to Legalize Pot, Sees 20% Drop in Drug Crimes

People attend a demonstration in support of the legalization of marijuana outside the Congress in Montevideo, Uruguay, on Tuesday. (File image via AP)
People attend a demonstration in support of the legalization of marijuana outside the Congress in Montevideo, Uruguay, on Tuesday. (File image via AP)

Since Uruguay’s legalization of marijuana last July, drug-related crimes have dropped by 20 percent in the country, Latin American news service Telesur recently reported.

While this sounds great news, there is more to it.

As easy as it was for Uruguayans to buy marijuana from any local pharmacy, legalization of cannabis has lured tourists to visit the country. But the catch is: Locals can plant, cultivate, and sell marijuana but tourists are still prohibited. 

People queue in line outside of a pharmacy to buy legal marijuana in Montevideo, Uruguay July 19, 2017. (File image via Reuters)
People queue in line outside of a pharmacy to buy legal marijuana in Montevideo, Uruguay July 19, 2017. (File image via Reuters)

Uruguayan officials said there is a building pressure to allow the legal sale of marijuana to visitors.

Revista Forum reports that the majority of beachgoers in possession of marijuana admit they acquired it illegally.

“We passed the idea of avant-garde country, and the foreigner arrives here and cannot buy?” Montevideo’s Cannabis Museum director, Eduardo Balsina, said to Revista Forum. “It is wrong because somehow it will arrive at the product, through an illegal market, which is precisely what one wanted to combat.”

People participate in the so-called "Last demonstration with illegal marijuana" on their way to the Congress building in Montevideo, as Senate debates a government-sponsored bill establishing state regulation of the cultivation, distribution and consumption of marijuana during a session, December 10, 2013. (File image via Reuters)
People participate in the so-called “Last demonstration with illegal marijuana” on their way to the Congress building in Montevideo, as Senate debates a government-sponsored bill establishing state regulation of the cultivation, distribution, and consumption of marijuana during a session, December 10, 2013. (File image via Reuters)

A movement snowballed to legalize weed in Uruguay following the arrest of Alicia Castilla, a 66-year-old author, and intellectual, in 2011 because she was growing pot in her home.

Her case triggered big protests, which later allowed cultivation at home. Additional lobbying manifested the legalization of marijuana.

Castilla’s case was dropped last year.

Canada is expected to be the second country after Uruguay to legalize weed but it will be the first developed nation to do so.

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