Uruguay is likely to pass legislation that will allow its government sell marijuana to its citizens.
The substance will only be sold to adults who register with a government database. The profits from the the sales will go toward rehabilitating drug addicts, according to the Daily Mail, citing local media reports. Uruguayan farmers will grow the marijuana and supply it to the government.
The bill is backed by President Jose Mujica's administration and will soon be sent to the country's Congress, which is dominated by members of the same political party as that of the president, according to the Associated Press.
The South American country hopes the move will reduce crime, as much of the violence in the country revolves around the drug trade.
By outlawing substances like marijuana, governments have given criminals a virtual monopoly in a market with relatively inelastic demand, which makes the drug trade extremely lucrative.
High profits are one reason criminals are willing to resort to violence when it comes to drugs. Another is that criminalization relegates drug-related activities to the illegal, underground world, which by nature is more lawless and violent.
Uruguyan government officials also hope that the availability of marijuana will steer users way from harder, more dangerous drugs. Another issue the bill could potentially alleviate is the country's overcrowded prisons.
We think the prohibition of some drugs is creating more problems to society than the drug itself, Uruguay's Defense Minister, Eleuterio Fernandez, told reporters on Wednesday.
If the Uruguay government passes the bill, it will become the first national government to directly sell marijuana to citizens, according to the AP.