MONTEVIDEO, Uruguay —
Dozens of pro-marijuana activists followed the debate from balconies overlooking the house floor, while others outside held signs and danced to reggae music.
“This law consecrates a reality that already exists: The marijuana sales market has existed for a long time, but illegally, buying it from traffickers, and in having plants in your house for which you can be thrown in jail,” said Camilo Collazo, a 25-year-old anthropology student.
“We want to put an end to this, to clean up and normalize the situation.”
Governing coalition Deputy Sebastian Sabini told The Associated Press that “without a doubt it would be a surprise if this proposal doesn’t pass, since it’s already been agreed to within all the sectors of the Broad Front.”
Supporters were sweating until ruling coalition deputy Dario Perez, who was openly critical, agreed to follow his party’s line. That would give the government the narrowest possible majority in a vote that still hadn’t taken place by the middle of the night.
Mujica, for his part, said he never consumed marijuana, but that the regulations are necessary because many other people do. “Never in my life did I try it, nor do I have any idea what it is,” he told the local radio station Carve.
The heavy toll, costs and questionable results of military responses to illegal drugs have motivated marijuana legalization initiatives in the U.S. states of Colorado and Washington, and inspired many world leaders to re-think drug laws.
Organization of American States Secretary-General Jose Miguel Inzulza told Mujica last week that his members had no objections. Pope Francis, however, said during his visit to Brazil that the “liberalization of drugs, which is being discussed in several Latin American countries, is not what will reduce the spread of chemical substances.”