Uruguay’s Senate gave final congressional approval Tuesday to create the world’s first national marketplace for legal marijuana, an audacious experiment that will have the government oversee production, sales and consumption of a drug illegal almost everywhere else.
The vote was 16 to 13, with the governing Broad Front majority united in favor. The plan now awaits the signature of President Jose Mujica, who wants the market to begin operating next year.
Two-thirds of Uruguayans oppose a government-run marijuana industry, according to opinion polls. But Mujica said he’s convinced the global drug war is a failure and feels bureaucrats can do a better job of containing addictions and beating organized crime than police, soldiers and prison guards.