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article imageUruguay plan: 'Sell marijuana to registered buyers'

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By Layne Weiss     Jun 20, 2012 in World
Montevideo - The Associated Press is reporting that Uruguay is planning to legalize and regulate the selling of marijuana as a crime fighting measure.
Uruguayan media cited lawmakers saying the government planned to send a bill to Congress Wednesday, The AP reports. The bill would allow for only the government to sell marijuana cigarettes. These cigarettes would also only be sold to registered adult users.
The plan is designed to fight drug trafficking and deter the public from seeking harder drugs, RT reports.
Uruguay's presidential office did not confirm these reports, but told The AP in an email that they may release an official statement later on "the marijuana issue."
According to Fox News Latino, the new law would require pot smokers to use moderation. If they exceed the limited number of marijuana cigarettes permitted under the law, they will have to undergo state funded rehabilitation.
"The measurement should be accompanied by efforts to get young people off drugs," ruling party Senator Monica Xavier said in a statement to local TV, The AP reports.
"This will help to separate markets," said Juan Vas of the Movement to Liberate Cannabis," Fox News Latino reports. "The way things are now, if someone wants to buy marijuana, they have to go to a place where other drugs are sold. These are places where people are committing crimes and working with drug traffickers."
There are currently no laws against the personal use of marijuana in Uruguay, The AP reports. Selling it, however, is illegal. A 1974 law actually gives judges the discretion to determine whether the amount of marijuana a person has is being used for personal use or illegal dealing.
According to the Transitional Institute for Drugs and Democracy in Latin America, the law originally stated "Whoever is in possession of a minimal quantity, destined for personal consumption, will be exempted from punishment."
The wording of the law was later amended in 1998:
"Whoever is in possession of a reasonable quantity exclusively destined for personal consumption-as morally determined by the Judge, who would have to include his reasoning for such ruling in the sentence-will be exempted from punishment."
According to The AP, Uruguay is one of the safest countries in Latin America, but recent gang shootouts, and a rise in cocaine seizures have raised concerns on the country's security, and has hurt the popularity of President Jose Mujica. The Interior Ministry says that between January and May the number of homicides in Uruguay jumped from 76 to 133.
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