MOSCOW, December 27 (RIA Novosti) – Russia is disappointed by Uruguay’s introduction of a new law legalizing production and sale of marijuana, the Foreign Affairs Ministry said Friday.
Uruguayan President Jose Mujica signed the law on December 23, making Uruguay the first country in the world to legalize, regulate, and tax marijuana in a bid to undercut the illegal drug trade.
“The Russian side…expresses regret with the decision adopted by the Uruguayan authorities,” the statement posted on Russia’s Foreign Affairs Ministry said, stressing the government’s commitment to strict drug control.
The new law allows the production, distribution and sale of marijuana, and lets people over the age of 18 grow their own plants on a small scale. Uruguayans will now also be able to get marijuana through state-regulated smoking clubs or buy up to 40 grams per month from pharmacies.
The United Nations' International Narcotics Control Board (INCB) strongly criticized the bill, which it called a “surprising” violation of a 1961 drug-control convention.
Uruguay “knowingly decided to break the universally agreed and internationally endorsed treaty,” said INCB president Raymond Yans.
President Mujica accused the INCB of double standards, noting that the board has not commented on similar legalization of marijuana in the US states of Washington and Colorado last year.
Russian President Vladimir Putin expressed concern in June over other countries’ initiatives to legalize soft drugs.
According to state drug control officials, Russia is the world’s largest heroin consumer and some 8.5 million Russians use drugs more or less regularly.