Uruguay's Cannabis Pioneer President Steps Down: Did He Shape the Industry for the Better?

Uruguay’s President, José “Pepe” Mujica, also known as the “Pauper President” who famously drives a 1987 Volkswagen Beetle, is stepping down from office. The “world’s most humble president” donated 90 percent of his salary to charity and departed his presidency with a nearly 70 percent approval rating.

Mujica leaves behind a grand legacy, including the first countrywide legalization of cannabis as well as a thriving economy. Under his leadership, salaries rose (although he retained a salary on par with the average Uruguayan, about $775 per month) and unemployment rates dropped to historically low levels. He is also known for legalizing abortions and gay marriage during his term.

Known to his people as “Pepe,” Mujica was a guerilla freedom fighter and farmer who was shot six times and imprisoned for 14 years for opposing the country’s former dictatorship. Now, however, he lives a simple life on his farm, with his...

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