MONTEVIDEO, Uruguay — In November 2010, 68-year-old Argentine writer Alicia Castilla moved across the River Plate to Uruguay in search of a tranquil life.
But just months later, her new home — set back from a pristine white beach an hour from the capital Montevideo — became the target of a police drug raid.
“Fourteen officers stormed in,” she told GlobalPost. “They thought I was the female version of Pablo Escobar.”
Castilla, a longtime activist for the legalization of marijuana and a user since her twenties, was growing 29 cannabis plants, for personal use.
She endured a 95-day stint in jail following her arrest, and today is facing a two-year prison sentence for producing an illegal substance.
Castilla’s case opened a fiery debate about the drug.
In this peaceful South American country, personal use of marijuana is not a crime but there’s a legal gray area around growing the plant.
Following her release in May last year, lawmakers of the Broad Front, the ruling center-left coalition, sent a bill to Congress that proposed legalizing pot production, with a limit of eight plants per household.
That was similar to a bill put forth by opposition politician in 2010.
Now, a parliamentary commission is expected to begin debating a third, far more radical idea — a state monopoly over the cultivation, commercialization and sale of cannabis.