By Chesney Hearst, Senior Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Four days after the Uruguayan Lower House approved a measure backed by President José Mujica to legalize and regulate the growing, selling and marketing of marijuana, a group of Brazilian protesters marched on Ipanema Beach demanding the legalization of marijuana and calling for President Mujica to run for Rio de Janeiro state governor.
The same group behind the Marcha da Maconha (Marijuana March), reportedly organized Sunday afternoon’s protest on Ipanema Beach.
Marcha da Maconha, held yearly in the city since 2002, now attracts thousands who march in support of marijuana usage and its legalization in Brazil.
On Sunday, some protesters held signs that read, “Me governa Mujica” (Govern Me Mujica) and at least one waved a Uruguayan flag. While others at the demonstration continued to demand that Rio de Janeiro state Governor Sérgio Cabral step down, one of the main grievances behind ongoing demonstrations in the city.
When asked about Sunday’s march, councilman Renato Cinco, known for his efforts to legalize drugs, said that “prohibition causes more violence and corruption than otherwise. Fighting is also a safety issue.”
Some sources report that approximately thirty protesters were present on Sunday. Although the protests took on a playful tone, they are far from embodying opinions on the fringe of society. In recent months, current heads of state and politicians in Latin America have called out for some form of drug legalization to deal with ubiquituous drug-related violence in their countries.
Guatemalan President, Otto Pérez Molina, as well as former Brazilian President, Fernando Henrique Cardoso, have been two outspoken advocates of decriminalizing drug use.
In Uruguay, the bill will move on to the Senate for approval, which, many say, is highly probable. Uruguay, Brazil’s neighbor to the south, would then become the first country in the world with a legal marijuana market.
Read more (in Portuguese).
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