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Cannabis in Uruguay on JMAN.tv - The Best Documentaries... Instantly On Demand

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“What's happening to us? Why is there so much violence? What makes it so difficult?” Jose Mujica assumed the presidency of Uruguay seeking a solution to quell the rivers of blood raging from the war on drugs. In 2013, his government passed pioneering and historic legislation to become the first country to comprehensively regulate the cannabis market. This rigorous doc charts the rise and success of this ruling.

Uruguay’s new era is unveiled in a ‘Green Dawn’. Excited young Uruguayans splash murals of green over city walls, hang green flowers from signposts, deck trees with green banners, string green balloons between lampposts, even bedeck a statue of Michelangelo’s David in green fabric. The sense of pride, optimism, and excitement is palpable. Green, the color of new life, spring, and vivacity, glows from the streets of Montevideo.

It has taken a long time to get to this stage. For thousands of years, people all over South America found a host of uses for the plant, from clothing, to medicine and recreation. However, at the dawn of the 20th century, the seeds of drug prohibition were sown. They grew grotesquely into a full-scale war under the “moral crusade” of Richard Nixon in the 1970s, a development which had particularly disastrous consequences in South America. Several countries were in the grip of despots, who used drug policy as a means of “flagrantly violating human rights and doing away with basic liberties”.

In Uruguay, the politicised use of drug enforcement policy engendered an equally politicized opposition, and the marijuana issue became a lightning rod for youth-led social justice movements. This is most clearly expressed in the annual Global Marijuana March. Sebastian Aguiar describes how “any young person could join [the march] and feel that they belonged, and, from then on, take part in countless initiatives.”

As a result of substantial political pressure, political wrangling, and a huge public relations campaign, 2013 finally saw the regulation of marijuana under the Mujica government. However, leaders of this policy change know that this must be the beginning of a more global effort. "We need the global paradigm to change, or else Uruguay will end up alone, isolated in terms of its initiative.”

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