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Carnegie Mellon University

Publication Date

Fall 2012

Program Name

Argentina: Regional Integration, Development, and Social Change


As the evidence mounts demonstrating the failure of the decades-old War on Drugs to stop the consumption and trafficking of drugs, Latin American leaders at the highest level of the political world have recently started speaking out against the policy of criminalization of drug use. Following the example of Holland and the successes of decriminalization for personal consumption, Uruguayan head of state José Mujica has taken the boldest step in the region in his proposal to legalize marijuana for production and sale by the State in regulated amounts. While his announcement in June 2012 grabbed the most attention worldwide, receiving less attention was the Uruguayan marijuana legalization social movement that has been organizing and calling for change for the last seven years. During the course of a six-day trip to Montevideo, Uruguay, I interviewed four leaders of the movement - each the head of his own distinct group - and two government officials to better understand the developing process underneath Mujica’s announcement. The interviews told a clear story of lively debate between the leaders of the movement and the lawmakers throughout the past two years, continuing to the present, on the most appropriate form of marijuana legalization for Uruguay, a success story for Uruguay’s transparent governing structures and for participatory democracy in the region as a whole.


Law | Policy Design, Analysis, and Evaluation | Politics and Social Change



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