After a yearlong debate, Uruguay is poised to become the first modern country in the hemisphere to legalize and regulate the cultivation, sale and use of marijuana. President Jose Mujica supports the move as a public safety measure. The logic goes something like this: make marijuana legal and free up law enforcement to go after harder drugs, such as cocaine or heroin. It will also put the revenue generated by marijuana in the hands of the state rather than criminals. Mujica's approach shouldn't come as a surprise to the Obama administration. After all, as The Times' Tracy Wilkinson reported in June, there is a growing movement among Latin America's leaders to find new approaches to the drug war. Above: A young man lights up a joint during a demonstration demanding a new law on marijuana in Uruguay on May 8. RELATED: Ted Rall's five best cartoons of 2013 Washington's 5 biggest 'fails' of 2013 2013 endings: Columnist Patt Morrison on what she won't miss
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