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Uruguay parliament passes bill on production, distribution of marijuana

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View of Uruguay’s lower house during the debate of a bill that legalizes marijuana, Montevideo, July 31, 2013.

Uruguay’s parliament has passed a controversial bill that legalizes for the first time the production and distribution of marijuana by the government.

The legislation was approved on Wednesday with 50 lawmakers out of 96 voting in favor of it following 14 hours of tough discussion.

The Senate must give the bill the final approval.

“The regulation is not meant to promote consumption,” lawmaker Sebastian Sabini claimed at the beginning of the voting session. “Consumption already exists,” he argued.

President Jose Mujica’s leftist government has also supported the legislation.

The supporters of the bill say the consumption of marijuana has doubled in the last ten years in the South American country of 3.4 million people.

Gerardo Amarilla of the opposition National Party warned against the bill, saying the plan was “playing with fire.”

A recent survey shows that a total of 63 percent of people in Uruguay are against the government’s plan.


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