Uruguay has long been known for its sweet pastries called medialunas. But right now it’s better known for marijuana. On Wednesday the small, progressive South American country became the first in the world to allow the nationwide commercial sale of pot – and the U.S. is watching.
Four years ago Uruguay became the world’s first country to legalize government-controlled marijuana cultivation, sale and consumption. That was the first step in a lengthy process to get where Uruguay has gotten now: The world’s first country to allow the commercial sale of pot in pharmacies. It’s a marijuana milestone that will be turning heads in the U.S. and states like Florida.
Uruguay’s initial campaign to legalize weed back in 2012 helped inspire successful legalization measures in Colorado and Washington that year. Since then six other U.S. states have legalized pot for recreational use – and more than 20 others, including Florida, now sanction its medical use.
If Uruguay’s nationwide experiment goes smoothly, it could lead to more U.S. legalization efforts. That’s especially true since the main impetus behind Uruguay’s law is to deprive criminal drug gangs of the revenue that fuels so much of their violence in Latin America.
Across Uruguay, commercial pot sales will still be government-supervised. To avoid marijuana tourism, only Uruguayan residents can buy it.