'Safeguarding Historic Marijuana Legalization,' Uruguay's Vazquez Wins Election

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'Safeguarding Historic Marijuana Legalization,' Uruguay's Vazquez Wins Election

'Uruguayans have said yes … yes to more democracy,' the former president declared

Tabare Vazquez, who was president of Uruguay from 2005-2010, won re-election, bringing assurances the country's landmark legalization of marijuana would continue.  (Photo:  Frente Amplio Uruguay/flickr/cc)

Uruguay's ex-president Tabare Vazquez was declared on Sunday the winner of the country's presidential election, an outcome that is expected to keep in place implementation of historic marijuana reform.

Vazquez's win marks a continuation of power for the leftist Broad Front coalition.

Reuters reported: "Center-right opposition candidate Luis Lacalle Pou quickly conceded defeat after three unofficial quick counts showed Vazquez with over 53 percent support. Lacalle Pou trailed with about 41 percent of the vote."

At a victory rally, Vazquez said:  "Uruguayans have said yes … yes to more democracy … yes to better public services." 

Among the differences between Vazquez and Lacalle Pou is their stance on the marijuana legalization enacted almost a year ago by current president Jose Mujica, also of the Broad Front coalition.

The New York Times reports that Vazquez, an oncologist who was president from 2005-2010, "is more moderate than Mujica, having vetoed an abortion law during his first term as president. He has also expressed opposition to parts of the marijuana law, a position shared by many Uruguayans as broad skepticism persists over the project. Still, he has said that he would enforce the law."

In contrast, 41-year-old Lacalle Pou, Reuters reported, "had threatened to repeal much of the legislation if he was elected president."

Hannah Hetzer, Policy Manager of the Americas at the U.S.based Drug Policy Alliance, said that "Sunday’s presidential election result safeguards Uruguay’s historic marijuana legalization."

"The Uruguayan people determinedly chose the presidential candidate who will continue the country’s progressive policies, including the rollout of the world’s first national legally regulated marijuana market," Hetzer's statement continued.


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