Marijuana Legalization in Uruguay
By Taylor Marvin
Uruguay has become the world’s first nation to legalize the marijuana trade. While personal recreational use of marijuana is currently legal, starting sometime after April of next year adult residents of the small Southern Cone country will be able to purchase up to 40 grams of the drug a month in pharmacies or grow six cannabis plants in their own homes. Prices for the legally-sold drug are expected to be roughly in line with the current black market price. Foreigners will not be allowed to purchase marijuana in the country. According to Reuters, critics of the law fear that legalizing the sale of marijuana will lead pot users to experiment with harder, more dangerous drugs.
It’s my hope that marijuana legalization in Uruguay and elsewhere helps finally demolish this gateway drug myth. On the face of it pot and harder drugs like cocaine and heroin have very little in common; if absent other factors using one mind-altering substance was enough to lead someone to more dangerous ones, we’d expect the more addicting and harmful alcohol to be a greater gateway. What marijuana and heroin have in common is that they’re illegal drugs. A habitual pot smoker has decided that they don’t mind breaking a pointless law, and presumably have become accustomed to purchasing prohibited drugs from criminals. It’s trespassing over these small legal, mental, and social barriers associated with pot’s illegality, not anything inherent to marijuana, that could make it easier for marijuana users to overcome the higher barriers to hard drug use. Marijuana isn’t a gateway drug. Instead, it is marijuana prohibition that’s a potential gateway to further drug use.