The UN vs Drug Reform

The United Nations’ International Narcotics Control Board is upset with Uruguay for legalizing marijuana. Julio Calzada, one of the architects of the new law, holds firm:

We feel that we’re acting within the spirit of the treaties. They provide for different methods, so long as they contribute a solution to the drug problem and aim to improve public health. … Uruguay is a sovereign country, with an elected parliament and a strong democratic tradition, so we’re going to continue with this policy in accordance with our sovereign and democratic rights.

Uruguay’s president is also fighting back:

Mujica dismissed the criticism as a double standard, pointing out that the U.S. states of Colorado and Washington have already legalized weed and that both of the states’ populations individually exceed Uruguay’s 3.4 million inhabitants. “Do they have two discourses, one for Uruguay and another for those who are strong?” Mujica asked.

Under the new law, the government will grow and sell marijuana, but Raul Gallegos wonders about the logistics:

The government has talked about charging $1 per gram of cannabis in order to price traffickers out of the market. Senator Lucia Topolansky, [President Jose] Mujica’s wife, has said the state may provide “cloned seeds,” which allow for a traceable type of plant, to best identify legal pot from the illegal kind. If making quality marijuana available cheaply sounds too good to be true, it probably is. “The costs of production will be higher so the only way to match” illegal pricing “will be a subsidy,” Senator Jorge Larranaga, an opponent of the law, argued in the National Party’s magazine.

The new pot-growing clubs may find costs far too high as well. Uruguay’s law puts a cap on 45 members per club. Laura Blanco, president of Uruguay’s Association of Cannabis Studies, has called this an “expensive proposition when it comes to sharing the cost burden, above all the fixed costs.”

Keating suggests that Uruguay’s legalization will spark a regional trend:

The move has been heavily criticized by neighboring Brazil and Argentina as well as the United Nations. But it’s also being watched closely in a region fed up with years of brutal and seemingly pointless drug violence. Much to Washington’s dismay, Latin American leaders—notably Otto Pérez Molina of Guatemala and Laura Chinchilla of Costa Rica—have been talking openly about the possibility of legalization. Unless Uruguay’s experiment turns into a complete fiasco, other countries are likely to follow its lead soon.