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Uruguay Determined To Legalize Marijuana

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MARIJUANA
Marcelo Vazquez, a marijuana grower, checks the leaves of his marijuana plants for fungus, on the outskirts of Montevideo, Uruguay, Monday, Dec. 9, 2013. The Uruguayan Senate is expected to approve a law to legalize the production, distribution and sale of marijuana Tuesday. If approved, Uruguay would be the first country to regulate the marijuana market from production to retail. (AP Photo/Matilde Campodonico) | ASSOCIATED PRESS

MONTEVIDEO, Uruguay (AP) — Uruguay seems determined to create a legal marijuana market despite warnings from educators, psychiatrists and pharmacists of dangerous side effects.

The Senate is set to open debate on the pot plan Tuesday, and since lawmakers turned away all requests for amendments after it passed the lower chamber, the vote will be final.

President Jose Mujica says the point is not to promote marijuana use, but push out organized crime by denying traffickers profits from an illegal trade.

Psychiatrists predict a rise in mental illness. Educators warn of failures at school, and pharmacists say selling pot alongside prescription drugs hurts their profession.

But marijuana grower Marcelo Vazquez tells The Associated Press he can't wait to pay taxes on the weed he's grown illegally for 20 years.