Inventando Caminos: The Road of Marijuana Legalization in Uruguay

Inventando Caminos: The Road of Marijuana Legalization in Uruguay

Prepared for delivery at the 2015 Congress of the Latin American Studies Association. San Juan, Puerto Rico. May 27-30, 2015.

Authors: Astrid Arrarás and Emily D. Bello-Pardo


In 2013, Uruguay became the first country to regulate the marijuana market. This paper will describe the international legal framework that regulates drugs, as well as Uruguay’s Law 19,172 which legalized marijuana. Furthermore, it will study the domestic challenges to the full implementation of the new law, and the potential international impacts of the regulation of cannabis in Uruguay. Our main argument is that, while the road to cannabis legalization is difficult and uncertain, Uruguay’s experience is broadening the global debate with regard to drug policies. Moreover, Uruguay is finding alternative interpretations of international law, based on a harm reduction and human rights approach. While this nation is technically violating international Conventions, Uruguay’s marijuana experiment embodies a paradigm shift that could bring positive results – but could also give rise to unintended consequences. Ultimately, the balance between the two will influence how this legalization will impact both Uruguay and the world.

Read Full Paper Here