Bogotá, Colombia – Uruguay's President José Mujica gave the dope on dope Thursday during an interview with a Colombian news agency.
Mujica told Colombia's RCN radio network that his plan for legalizing marijuana in the South American nation does not mean he favors legalizing any other illicit drugs.
Mujica added that he does not yet know when his government will present Uruguay's Congress with the legislative proposal. Mujica's party dominates Congress.
He says the plan is for the government to sell marijuana at a cheap and reasonable price then monitor what each consumer uses. The idea is to take drug profits out of the hands of criminals.
Mujica says that while drug addiction is a medical problem, drug trafficking is an unwinnable police problem.
Uruguay would be the world's first nation to sell marijuana directly. Only the government could sell marijuana, in the form of cigarettes, and only to adult registered users.
Uruguayan pot smokers would have to exercise moderation under the new plan. Those who exceed a limited number of permitted marijuana cigarettes would have to undergo rehabilitation.
The state would take responsibility for quality control under the plan and sales would include a tax to fund rehabilitation programs, an unnamed government source told Uruguayan daily El País.
“The world is moving this way,” the source said, according to El País. “The debate is moving toward liberalization as a way to fight organized crime."
The government hopes the measure will snatch profits from drug dealers and divert users from harder drugs. Growing use of crack cocaine, in particular, worries public officials.
There are no laws against marijuana use itself in Uruguay.
A spokeswoman for the Uruguayan presidency told Fox News Latino that the government does not yet have an official statement about state marijuana sales, but said such a proposal would likely be submitted to Congress for consideration, though it is possible to enact the change by decree.
Uruguayan marijuana smokers cheered the possibility of government-sold joints.
“This will help to separate markets,” said Juan Vaz of the Movement to Liberate Cannabis, according to El País. “The way things are now, if someone wants to buy marijuana, they have to go to a place where other drugs are sold. These are places where people are committing crimes, and working with drug traffickers.”
The news immediately made a splash on social media.
Luis Lacalle Pou, a congressman who had presented a proposal to allow people to grow marijuana for their personal use, criticized the measure on Twitter.
“I don’t think it’s a good thing to keep associating marijuana with money,” Lacalle Pou tweeted. “That’s why my project deals with growing for personal use.”
The Associated Press contributed reporting to this article.