Last March we traveled to Uruguay to take a look at how the first nation to legalize and regulate the entire marijuana trade is constructing its laws. Along the way we met and interviewed José Mujica, the country’s president and the galvanizing force behind the unprecedented legalization effort. We also smoked weed alongside him. He was pretty chill. The documentary that came from the trip, titled The Cannabis Republic of Uruguay, can be viewed here, and a long-form written profile of Pepe, as everyone in the country calls him, can be read here. Because of space constraints, we were forced to edit down our interview with him for the documentary, as well as the mag article, but we thought it was wide-ranging and intriguing enough to publish in its entirety, so that's what we're doing now.
Today, May 12, Pepe is visiting the US and will have an Oval Office meeting with President Obama and other meetings with Secretary of State John Kerry. Pepe was a gun-toting guerrilla fighter in his youth and spent 14 years in prison trying to enact a Che Guevara–inspired revolution in Uruguay. He’s an avid anti-consumerist and remarkably pragmatic for a socialist South American leader—he’s even sanctioned the beginning of open-pit mining in the country. We think he’s one of the most fascinating world leaders of the past few decades, and some drug -policy advocates believe that he should win the Nobel Peace Prize thanks to the impact his marijuana experiment could have on the drug war.