The South American country of Uruguay wants to put drug dealers out of business, and it’s considering a rather novel way of doing it: the government itself would sell marijuana to registered citizens, making it the first country in the world to do so.

Right now, there are no laws on the books in Uruguay that make pot usage illegal. But government officials are so fed up with the crime associated with the drug trade that they want to create a law stating only the government itself can sell marijuana, hoping that by doing so, the traffickers will have less business.

Uruguay would reportedly tax the purchases, and that money would then go toward rehabilitating drug addicts, mainly people who use harder drugs like cocaine. But since the government would require citizens to register before buying pot, that would also mean the amount residents buy would be tracked — and provide an early warning if it seems someone is smoking too much.

Coletta Youngers, a senior fellow at the Washington Office on Latin America think tank, said, “There’s a growing recognition in the [South American] region that marijuana needs to be treated differently than other drugs, because it’s a clear case that the drug laws have a greater negative impact than the use of the drug itself.”

[GazetteNet]