logo

U.S. Lagging Behind Central and South American Countries in Marijuana Legalization

image
Created: 17 November, 2014
Updated: 15 October, 2022
3 min read

Across the Americas, marijuana is entering the mainstream. Along with a Republican victory in the November elections, various marijuana laws passed around the country in referendum measures. Similarly, marijuana legislation has passed in elected bodies around Latin America in recent years.

The nature of these laws, however, differ drastically. Here is a regional comparison to see the state of legalization and decriminalization around the Western hemisphere.

In the most recent election, Oregon and Alaska legalized recreational marijuana use and will allow retail pot shops to operate within their jurisdictions.

The District of Columbia also passed a pro-marijuana measure, but one that has far less reach. The law passed allows for possession but not the sale of marijuana, effectively decriminalizing the drug, but not allowing for any shops or retail businesses to open. Proponents of the law argue that this is a civil rights issue since African Americans are disproportionately more likely to be arrested and convicted on charges of marijuana possession than people of any other race.

These three jurisdictions join Washington state and Colorado in legalizing the recreational use of marijuana. So far, the Obama administration has taken a stance that it will not interfere with the will of voters in these states. With the measure in DC and growing public support for legalization, it won't be long before Congress has to take up the issue.

Uruguay took the lead in passing marijuana legislation, becoming the first country in the world to legalize the growth, sale, and distribution of marijuana. Implementation of the law, though, has been slower than expected and the presidential election runoff, which will occur on November 30, will likely determine the details and depth of the measure.

Both presidential candidates have vowed to tinker with the current regulations. It is likely if Tabaré Vázquez wins, who is of the same liberal Broad Front that president Jose Mujica is a part of, the changes will be slight. Luis Lacalle Pou, of the National Party, however, said he will try to

repeal many of the measures in the marijuana law if he is elected. Current polls suggest that Vázquez is favored to win the runoff.

Other Latin American countries have much more modest proposals.

Mexico, Colombia, and Argentina have decriminalized small amounts of marijuana possession. Argentina is also currently considering a proposal to expand their legislation and decriminalize marijuana growth for personal use. Guatemala will likely vote on a measure to legalize marijuana in early 2015.

IVP Existence Banner

In Chile and Costa Rica, both legislative branches are working on proposals for medical marijuana to be legal. Chile recently passed a law for the state to plant Cannabis plants to harvest in order to produce a painkiller for cancer patients. They are not considering legalizing marijuana for personal use.

Meanwhile in Costa Rica, a law is under debate for the state to regulate the cultivation, production, and distribution of medical marijuana in the country. Recreational uses are currently off the table.

Jamaica and Ecuador are also lessening punishments in their country for marijuana. In Jamaica, for example, less than two ounces are likely to be decriminalized. Ecuador’s threshold lies at ten grams for decriminalization based on a law passed in 2013.

Photo Credit: Aliwak / shutterstock.com

Latest articles

Trump-Biden Debate
Did the Major Party Campaigns Just End the Commission on Presidential Debates?
President Joe Biden’s campaign issued a challenge to former President Donald Trump Wednesday to two debates: One in June and one in September. The debates have to be hosted by a news outlet and will not be conducted in front of a crowd....
15 May, 2024
-
6 min read
Oregon Capitol Building
Only 7% of Voters Have Returned Ballots in Oregon's Closed Primaries
Imagine being part of the largest segment of the registered voting population and being denied the right to an equal vote in elections. Well, millions of voters across the US don't have to imagine this because it is a reality for them in every election cycle. ...
14 May, 2024
-
3 min read
Chula Vista
POLL: Nearly Two-Thirds of Chula Vista Voters Want to Change the Way They Vote
A recent poll conducted by Competitive Edge research with funding by More Choice San Diego found that 62% of voters in Chula Vista -- if given the opportunity -- would support a measure that would advance five candidates to a general election that uses ranked ballots....
13 May, 2024
-
2 min read