Published May 03, 2014
MONTEVIDEO, Uruguay (AP) – President José Mujica said Friday that his country's legal marijuana market will be much better than Colorado's, where he says the rules are based on "fiction" and "hypocrisy" because the state loses track of the drug once it's sold and many people fake illnesses to get prescription weed.
Mujica says this won't be allowed in Uruguay, where the licensed and regulated market will be much less permissive with drug users.
In an exclusive Associated Press interview just before releasing his country's long-awaited marijuana rules, the former leftist guerrilla predicted that many will call him an "old reactionary" once they see the fine print.
"We don't go along with the idea that marijuana is benign, poetic and surrounded by virtues. No addiction is good," he said. "We aren't going to promote smokefests, bohemianism, all this stuff they try to pass off as innocuous when it isn't. They'll label us old reactionaries. But this isn't a policy that seeks to expand marijuana consumption. What it aims to do is keep it all within reason, and not allow it to become an illness."
Uruguay plans to create clones of approved marijuana plants, so that police can test weed possessed by licensed users and ensure that it's bona fide. Possession of marijuana lacking the genetic markers of approved plants will be criminally punished. Unlike Colorado, which licenses marijuana sellers and producers but allows any adult to buy up to 28 grams at a time, Uruguay will license consumers as well, and limit their purchases to 10 grams a week.
"It's a complete fiction what they do in Colorado," Mujica said. "There are places where there are forms already filled out with a doctor's signature. So you go, you say that you need marijuana because your ear hurts, they fill out the form, you prescribe it yourself and with the signature of a doctor. This is brutal hypocrisy."
Mujica spoke with a team of AP journalists after a quick ride in his Volkswagen Beetle with his wife, Sen. Lucia Topolansky, to the butcher's to buy some meat for dinner. He later answered questions in his garden, surrounded by cats and dogs including a greyhound that he recently took on after someone abandoned it at the door of his farm, where he lives and grows flowers for sale.
It's a critical time for Mujica's presidency. The development of regulations for the marijuana market Uruguay's congress approved in December has been closely watched, and on May 12 he will meet with President Barack Obama in the White House. He also spoke about U.S. foreign policy and his willingness to provide refuge in Uruguay to prisoners from the U.S. detention center for terrorism suspects in Guantanamo, Cuba.