OTTAWA – Uruguay‘s envoy to Ottawa says his small South American country has opened up some breathing room for marijuana legalization within international treaties that have outlawed recreational pot for decades.
Uruguay Ambassador Martin Vidal credits his country, the first to legalize recreational cannabis at a national level, as something of a trailblazer for countries like Canada that are planning to embark on the same path.
The Trudeau government introduced legislation in April with a goal of legalizing and regulating the use of recreational marijuana by July 2018.
Canada and Uruguay must comply with three United Nations drug-control treaties, to which each is a party. The conventions criminalize the possession and production of non-medical cannabis.
Uruguay’s ambassador acknowledged the progress so far has only been “very minor,” he’s encouraged because it can take many decades for rules of this nature to budge.
Canada must withdraw from treaties outlawing marijuana by July 1, 2017, Justin Trudeau has days away from signing the treaty deadline:
Can foreigners buy marijuana in Uruguay?
First of all, let’s get it straight. There will be no sales of cannabis to visitors to Uruguay.
To be able to buy weed, you’ll need to be Uruguayan or a resident. So no, Uruguay is not the next Amsterdam. There will be no brown cafes.
But all is not lost, Uruguayans are super-friendly about offering their home-grown.
Buying weed in Uruguay
Uruguayan citizens and registered residents living here for at least two years will be able to buy up to 40g of marijuana per month from the pharmacy.
Customers will need to register at the pharmacy with the information being fed to a central database. Anyone consuming their limit will be flagged for treatment or to see if they are selling their stash (which will be illegal).
|“We see not that the tide is turning, but the international community’s allowing this issue to be part of the discussion,” Vidal said at Uruguay’s embassy in Ottawa.”Considering the Canadian process is a few years behind (Uruguay’s), they will probably come to this discussion with some very difficult first discussions already passed.”|
Uruguay’s Ambassador Martin Vidal says the challenging task has forced Uruguay to put its international credibility on the line – but he insists there have been small signs of movement.
Uruguay’s goal has not been to change the minds of other countries about cannabis, but to get them to accept that there are other ways to approach drug control.
“Some other countries have joined us in this discussion and others in the future – maybe Canada will be one of them – will find that it’s not that the path is already clear, but we have facilitated a lot because we worked very hard in the last years to introduce this perspective,” said Vidal, whose country is home to about 3.4 million people – about one-tenth Canada’s population.
Ottawa has also emphasized the importance of legalization for public-health reasons. The government’s primary goals are keeping pot out of the hands of youth and marijuana profits out of the black market.
But before Canada can develop a regulated, recreational marijuana market many issues still need to be addressed – from distribution, to taxation, to public awareness, to policing.
The to-do list also includes navigating international treaties.
A spokesman for Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland said when it comes to legalized pot the feds are examining Canada’s international commitments.
“We are committed to working with our global partners to best promote public health and combat illicit drug trafficking,” Alex Lawrence wrote in an email.
“Canada remains fully compliant with its obligations under the international drug treaties at this time.”
Political rivals and legal experts have urged the Liberal government to explain its plans for three United Nations drug-control conventions. Some have warned that Canada’s international reputation is at stake and have called on Ottawa to withdraw from the treaties rather than breach them.
Canada and Uruguay are currently party to the 1961 Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, the 1971 Convention on Psychotropic Substances and the 1988 Convention against Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances.
A briefing note prepared for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and obtained early last year by The Canadian Press said Canada would have to find a way to essentially tell the world how it plans to conform to its treaty obligations.
Canada has also received direct input from Uruguay, which has shared its legalization experience with Ottawa. The countries’ co-operation on pot will continue with an upcoming video conference between officials to discuss Canada’s legislation, Vidal said.
“There are lessons to be learned.”
SOURCE: The Vancouver Sun