Uruguay Poised To Be First Country to Legalize Marijuana Industry


Updated at 8:30 p.m ET.

Uruguay became the first country in the world to legalize the marijuana trade on Tuesday in a 16-13 vote. Supporters of the law gathered near Congress holding green balloons and Jamaican flags in homage to Bob Marley.

The Senate voted on a law that establishes a state-regulated industry and allows citizens to grow, buy and smoke marijuana, Reuters reports. The bill, which is supported by President Jose Mujica, passed a lower chamber in July. Mujica has trumpeted the legislation — closely watched by other Latin American countries — as an alternative strategy to tackle drug trafficking from the U.S.-backed “war on drugs.”

While other countries have decriminalized marijuana possession, and the Netherlands allows its sale in coffee shops, Uruguay is the first to allow the entire production and distribution chain. In the United States, Colorado and Washington state voted last year to allow a…

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