Colombian singer Juanes threw his support behind the initiative of Uruguayan President Jose Mujica to legalize the regulated production and sale of marijuana.
The controversial bill is being pushed by the government and this week will be sent to Congress, where the governing leftist Broad Front coalition has the required majority to approve it.
"President Mujica's initiative seems to me to be very important for reducing the high levels of violence that are behind drug trafficking," Juanes told UNoticias.
Drug consumption "is a public health matter and you mustn't send an addict, or an alcoholic or someone who consumes three packs of cigarettes to prison," Juanes said.
The war against drug trafficking "has been lost" because "it uses up too much money," so "we have to seek new policies and many more alternatives to fight this scourge," the singer said.
"Behind drug trafficking is arms trafficking and harsh violence. I know it because I saw it in Colombia and so I applaud Mujica's initiative," Juanes said.
The Colombian singer is visiting Montevideo to promote his latest album and the concert he will give in the Uruguayan capital in September.
The bill that the government will send to Congress seeks to legalize marijuana production, control its sale and create a registry of problematic consumers so as to later be able to make medical treatment available to them.
At first, Mujica's initiative did not include the possibility for growing one's own pot, but now that legislators from his party have become involved in it that possibility will be analyzed during the legislative debate on the bill.
Currently in Uruguay marijuana consumption is not considered to be a crime although the purchasing and trafficking of it are.
Sixty percent of Uruguayans, according to recent surveys, are against the initiative to legalize pot production and sale.