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If our politicians were brave enough, or even simply rational, they would follow Uruguay’s lead and legalise cannabis

It’s a policy that would be a hammer blow to criminal gangs. It would stop criminalising non-violent people, drastically undermine racist policing, be good for people’s health and it would save lives. But while a mainstream British politician is more likely to have smoked cannabis than to propose its legalisation, the courageous Uruguayan government has done just that.

Uruguay made a pragmatic choice. It could continue to leave cannabis production and sale in the hands of violent criminal gangs, or the state could take it over and regulate it properly. “A regulated market that is visible has greater oversight than prohibition,” as Diego Canepa, the president of the Uruguay’s National Drug Board, has put it. Uruguayans who register on a national database can buy up to 40g of pot from a pharmacy, and adults are now allowed to grow up to eight marijuana plants each.

The gangs of Uruguay must be incandescent with rage. The so-called “war on drugs” has been the ultimate money-spinner for the criminal underworld. In the five decades since its catastrophic inception, more people are using drugs than ever before, and the illegal market is booming. According to the UN, it is now worth $330bn globally a year, which is bigger than most countries’ economies. Governments spend $100bn a year supposedly cracking down on it. The US alone has thrown a trillion dollars at it since Richard Nixon unleashed his war. It is a self-destructive waste on an epic scale.

By Owen Jones
Read the full story at independent.co.uk

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