Why Uruguay’s Pot-Growing Neighbor Paraguay Won’t Follow Suit

Uruguay became the first country in the world to legalize the cultivation, sale and consumption of marijuana on Tuesday.

But don’t expect South America’s biggest pot-grower, Paraguay, to follow that path any time soon.

The landlocked country produces most of the weed consumed in nearby Brazil and Uruguay, and a 2013 report by the U.S. Department of State called it a “major drug transit country and money laundering center.”

That hasn’t translated into momentum for legalization. Instead, the country has seen a growth in government corruption tied to the drug trade.


Paul Gootenberg, a sociology professor at the State University of New York, Stony Brook, is an expert on the Andean drug trade.

“Paraguay is fast becoming the regional cannabis exporting power,” Gootenberg said in an email. “In Uruguay’s case, a small vulnerable neighbor, is trying to protect or insulate themselves from the damage that comes from these kinds of illicit...

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