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A Look at Marijuana Laws in Latin America

Here’s a look at the status of marijuana laws in some countries in Latin America and the Caribbean.

ARGENTINA

Personal possession of marijuana was decriminalized under a 2009 Supreme Court ruling that jail time for small amounts of drugs violates Argentina’s constitution. Although the ruling only referred to pot, in practice it extended to most drugs.

BRAZIL

Does not punish personal drug use, but trafficking or transporting small amounts of controlled substances is punishable by drug abuse education or community service.

CHILE

The law allows use of medical marijuana, but so far only one pilot program has been authorized. First legal seeds were planted Wednesday.

COLOMBIA

President Juan Manuel Santos in August endorsed newly introduced legislation that would legalize marijuana for medicinal and therapeutic use in the drug war-afflicted Andean nation.

GUATEMALA

President Otto Perez Molina has called the drug war a failed strategy and praised the “visionary” legalization experiments in Washington and Colorado. Currently, prison terms of four months to two years can be imposed for the possession of drugs for personal use.

JAMAICA

The justice minister in June announced legislation to decriminalize the possession of to two ounces (57 grams) of pot and legalize the drug for religious purposes in a country where adherents of the Rastafarian spiritual movement ritually smoke marijuana as a “holy herb.”

MEXICO

There is no general push to legalize marijuana in a country where tens of thousands have been killed in drug war violence in the past seven years, but lawmakers in the capital, Mexico City, have introduced a measure to allow stores to sell up to five grams of pot.

URUGUAY

Became the first nation to approve a state-overseen marijuana market in 2013. Once registered and licensed, any Uruguayan adult will be allowed to grow plants at home or join a pot-growing club. Soon users will also be able to buy marijuana cigarettes from pharmacies.

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