Mario F de la Hoz Schilling: Latin America’s New Discourse Towards Drug Policies: The Role of Cannabis Legalization in Uruguay

Mario F de la Hoz Schilling
Author: Mario F de la Hoz Schilling


In December 2013, Uruguay became the first country in the world to fully legalize cannabis, regulating all processes from the possession, growth, and distribution of the plant. As a breakthrough in the international drug control regime, it reflects the rapidly shifting paradigm towards drug policies in Latin America. The international and mostly U.S. led attempt to eliminate the production, transport, sale and consumption of so-classified illicit drugs, or narcotic and psychotropic drugs, has been for several decades an important dynamic in the relations, movements and conflicts across all of the Americas. The social and human costs have been very high and an increasingly larger amount of activists, politicians and researchers have spoken out against this often called ‘war on drugs’ and have sought for alternatives to avoid the costs paid by society. These alternatives mostly focus on cannabis, the most consumed illicit drug worldwide (UNODC: 2014, 41). Accordingly, this paper will mostly limit its scope on the specific role of cannabis. Though the prohibitionist model continues to prevail in the region, an increasing amount of countries have decriminalized cannabis and the reform debates in the region have gradually gained legitimacy and importance in the past few years. Due to the importance and impacts that these transnational trends have in the region, this paper will assess what role the legalization of cannabis in Uruguay has played in the discourse towards drug policies in Latin America. The objective of this study is to analyze the Latin American paradigm shift away from prohibitionism and towards the regulation of cannabis as an alternative to the war on drugs and, in such context, the decreasing hegemony of the U.S. in the region. The case study, more specifically, will look at the transnational effects that Uruguay’s decision has had in the region to reinforce these trends.


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Author Bios

Matt Maurer – Minden Gross
Jeff Hergot – Wildboer Dellelce LLP

Costa Rica
Tim Morales – The Cannabis Industry Association Costa Rica

Elvin Rodríguez Fabilena


Julie Godard
Carl L Rowley -Thompson Coburn LLP

Jerry Chesler – Chesler Consulting

Ian Stewart – Wilson Elser Moskowitz Edelman & Dicker LLP
Otis Felder – Wilson Elser Moskowitz Edelman & Dicker LLP
Lance Rogers – Greenspoon Marder – San Diego
Jessica McElfresh -McElfresh Law – San Diego
Tracy Gallegos – Partner – Fox Rothschild

Adam Detsky – Knight Nicastro
Dave Rodman – Dave Rodman Law Group
Peter Fendel – CMR Real Estate Network
Nate Reed – CMR Real Estate Network

Matthew Ginder – Greenspoon Marder
David C. Kotler – Cohen Kotler

William Bogot – Fox Rothschild

Valerio Romano, Attorney – VGR Law Firm, PC

Neal Gidvani – Snr Assoc: Greenspoon Marder
Phillip Silvestri – Snr Assoc: Greenspoon Marder

Tracy Gallegos – Associate Fox Rothschild

New Jersey

Matthew G. Miller – MG Miller Intellectual Property Law LLC
Daniel T. McKillop – Scarinci Hollenbeck, LLC

New York
Gregory J. Ryan, Esq. Tesser, Ryan & Rochman, LLP
Tim Nolen Tesser, Ryan & Rochman, LLP
Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft LLP

Paul Loney & Kristie Cromwell – Loney Law Group
William Stewart – Half Baked Labs

Andrew B. Sacks – Managing Partner Sacks Weston Diamond
William Roark – Principal Hamburg, Rubin, Mullin, Maxwell & Lupin
Joshua Horn – Partner Fox Rothschild

Washington DC
Teddy Eynon – Partner Fox Rothschild