Journalist Smokes Weed while Interviewing President of Uruguay

Español“I’m smoking weed [marijuana] with the President of Uruguay,” says Krishna Andavolu, as he begins his interview with José Mujica for Vice magazine. Even though only a short preview of the interview has been released, it has already generated thousands of hits on YouTube and other social media.

Andavolu lights a joint in front of the Uruguayan president at the beginning of the video. As a response, Mujica says, “If you need to take drugs to be free, then you’re screwed. Freedom is here [pointing to his head]; otherwise it doesn’t exist.”

The interview was motivated by the president’s recent action to make Uruguay the first country in the world to fully legalize marijuana. According to Vice, “Krishna meets with José Mujica, President of Uruguay, to smoke a joint and talk about his goals to put food on each table, a car in every garage, and six marijuana plants in every home.”

Marijuana legalization took effect on Christmas Eve 2013 after its approval by the Uruguayan senate, regulating both the sale and production of the drug.

What the Law Says

The law limits the consumption of marijuana for residents of Uruguay who are at least 18 years old. The drug may be obtained at pharmacies, specialized consumer clubs, or by cultivating it privately, although all users must register with the state.

With respect to permitted quantities, an individual may purchase up to 40 grams of marijuana per month, or take home up to six plants per family and harvest a maximum of 480 grams annually.

Ethan Nadelmann, executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA), notes that President Mujica is a leader who has uniquely addressed the issue of drugs in the region.

“When President Mujica made this proposal, they say he did so without looking at polls or meeting with political consultants. He simply listened to respected experts regarding what the optimal policy toward marijuana should be and said, ‘let’s do it.'”

In addition, Nadelmann stressed that “the proposal of President Mujica is unique, since he not only changed public debate, but also laws and policies.”

Archbishop of Montevideo Daniel Sturla was quoted by El Pais, a newspaper in Uruguay, as saying the proposal is “something different to confront the scourge of drugs.” However, he expressed doubt adding, “It is an issue that worries us. We don’t see clarity. We don’t see this new law as a solution, but we are hopeful, like many Uruguayans.”

The archbishop also commented that, “It’s an issue that I view with concern, but with the concern of an educator who has spent a lot of time with young people — who understands that we need to do something other than what we have been doing. The policies that have been tried have been a failure. I have many doubts about this new law, but I don’t oppose it. I still lack clarity on how best to overcome this scourge of drugs, including marijuana.”

Translated by Guillermo Jimenez.

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