Marijuana law put on hold in Uruguay after adverse polls

President José Mujica asks Congress to postpone bill that proposes to decriminalize marijuana

Uruguayan Congress is debating a bill that will legalise production and distribution of marijuana
Uruguayan Congress is debating a bill that will legalise production and distribution of marijuana ANDRES STAPFF (REUTERS)

The government of Uruguay announced on Wednesday that it still has intentions of legalizing marijuana in the country, even after President José Mujica asked Congress to postpone a bill calling for the decriminalization of the drug.

"The bill was not rescinded and it is still on the calendar: postpone doesn't mean cancel," said Julio Calzada, the National Drug Board chief.

Last June, Mujica announced his intentions to make marijuana legal in Uruguay but with strict controls over its usage. But he asked lawmakers from his Broad Front (FA) coalition to postpone debates on the bill because it was still "premature."

His decision came after a national poll showed that 64 percent of Uruguayans don't agree with the measure, including 53 percent of the people from his own coalition.

National poll showed that 64 percent of Uruguayans don't agree with the measure

Mujica said that it was necessary "to explain well" to citizens what the measure entails and to "try to convince" them.

Still Calzada said that that the issue is "a complicated one," and recognized that there are "very different and diverse opinions" about legalization. "The president will continue explaining his plans, and try to convince people," Calzada said

According to the National Drug Board, 20 percent of Uruguayans between the ages of 15 and 65 say that they have smoked marijuana at least once in their lives.

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