The War on Drugs has been ongoing for over four decades, all to the resounding conclusion that, generally, the fight has done far more harm than it has good. A bountiful underworld of illegal business exempt from tax that's thriving purely because of its underground status? Hey, let's get the American government to throw literally billions of dollars at it, keep it illegal, which, by definition, keeps the the businesses going, and just hope it goes away.
Uruguay, like pretty much every other country in the world, has issues with the drug trade. Setting the sane, reasonable example that ought to be followed worldwide, they're currently trying to push through the legalisation of cannabis. They argue it would weaken Uruguay's illegal market, aid the government in their hunt for dealers and traffickers and help them to concentrate on rehabilitating addicts. They also reckon that, by separating cannabis from harder drugs, the whole "gateway" thing will crumble away, meaning the people who might have done previously aren't going to end up with a needle in their arm any more.
The newest problem in Uruguay is paco, or "pasta base", which is a highly addictive by-product of cocaine that costs the user the equivalent of 19p per hit. It's affordable to people from any level of society and as easy to get hold of as weed, but that doesn't stop addicts from robbing and killing others to raise funds for their habit.
It's the same gangs who run both the paco and weed trade, so, besides making a severe dent in their profits, legalising cannabis in Uruguay would break the association the two drugs currently have with the country's youth, hopefully lessening the already ridiculous amount of scarily young teenagers getting addicted to paco.
It's been said countless times – because countless people have rational opinions – but, with the crack, heroin and meth epidemic only getting worse in America and Europe, not to mention the crippling financial problems everyone's having at the moment, it's about time our politicians grow something resembling balls and start taking steps towards decriminalising drugs. Portugal did it and, five years down the line, drug use among teens had dropped dramatically and the number of addicts seeking treatment has doubled.
Let's see what happens in Uruguay.
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