60% of Uruguayans Oppose Marijuana Legalization

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A survey shows that 60 percent of Uruguayans are against the government’s proposal to legalize the sale of marijuana, with many expressing concern that it would do little to address the growing drug trade in that country.

Uruguay’s Diario UNoticias reported that a recent poll revealed a lack of public support for a government proposal that would allow it to regulate marijuana sales. The possession of small quantities of marijuana is already decriminalized in the South American country, and the proposal is to legalize its sale through government dispensaries.

The survey, performed by polling firm Interconsult, found that 60 percent of participants were opposed to legalizing marijuana, while 38 percent approved of the proposed law. The older generation appears more resistant to legalization: 72 percent of those over 63 years old disagreed with the law, compared to 44 percent of those under 27.

Education also had an influence on views of the law. Sixty percent of study participants with a college degree or higher did not support legalization, while those with a lower level of education tended to be more averse to the government’s proposal, with 72 percent opposing it.

Most importantly, when considering the possible effects of legalization, 69 percent said that the law would not reduce the drug trade, while 21 percent believed it would actually increase drug consumption.

It is unclear how many people participated in the survey or where in the country it was carried out.

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Although it is not clear how representative the study is, its results do suggest a lack of popular support for marijuana legalization, which could dissuade the government from pursuing the proposal.

Moreover, the survey reflects concerns that legalization will do little to stop the drug trade. The Uruguayan government hopes that legalizing marijuana would reduce organized crime and the consumption of cocaine. However, some experts note that while permitting marijuana sales may provide control over the drug’s use, it would not influence the cocaine trade, as those using cocaine are not likely to stop in favor of legal marijuana.

Government support for drug legalization varies across in Latin American. While Guatemalan President Otto Perez and Mexican President Felipe Calderon have expressed varying levels of openness to debate on the idea, most presidents in the region have stated that they remain concerned about the ability of legalization to affect the violence of the drug trade.

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