After more than a year of anticipation for the Uruguayan government's approval of the marijuana bill, legislators voted 50 to 46 in favor of legalizing the production, distribution, and access to pot nationwide on Wednesday night. The 13-hour heated debate among the 96 lawmakers proved to be victorious for Uruguay President Jose Mujica who wanted to explore legal alternatives to marijuana trafficking. Recent polls show that Mujica was under fire with two-third of Uruguayans opposing the bill to legalize marijuana, reports The Washington Post. The President, who has never consumed the substance, believes that regulation is necessary because the war on drugs has not only cost money but also led to bloodshed.

For 40 years, the consumption of pot has been legal but it is against the law to sell, buy, produce, or even possess a marijuana plant — a law that contradicts the new measures of the marijuana bill, reports CNN. The Broad Front Coalition, the Uruguayan left-wing group of political parties, stated that currently the drug can only be accessed through narcos, which breaks the law and puts the buyer at risk for consuming other drugs. The passing of the marijuana bill is believed to be an alternative solution to eliminate drug cartels, "We have created a great business for drug trafficking, and that is what we want to start to fight," said the Board Front Coalition. While many Latin American leaders have endlessly battled drug cartels, the legalization of marijuana in these countries could save money and the lives civilians caught amid the haze of the drug war. According to CNN, drug traffickers net $30 million to $40 million annually from the black market as marijuana is the first popularly used illegal drug in Uruguay.

As the bill currently awaits approval from the Senate, it could become law as early as this month, says the New York Times. The legalization of marijuana could have a regional and global impact on current drug policies in Latin America and across the world.

Marijuana At Home

If the bill receives approval from the Senate, Uruguayans will be allowed to grow the substance in their homes with a six-plants-per-household limit. In addition, citizens can form cooperatives that allow them to grow 99 plants. Private companies could grow their marijuana as long as their harvests are only bought by the government, says the New York Times. This policy will increase the likelihood that the substance is sold at government-approved pharmacies.

Purchase Of Marijuana At Pharmacies

The Uruguayan marijuana bill is intended to improve the country's public health and safety. "[Medicinal marijuana use] has been shown to be beneficial in neuropathic pain," Dr. Stephen B. Corn, M.D., an academic clinician at Harvard Medical School who educates other physicians on medical marijuana, told Refinery29. Corn also added that medicinal marijuana can help with a series of autoimmune diseases like amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, multiple sclerosis, HIV neuropathy, and trauma, among others. Aware of the health benefits that the drug could offer to sufferers of chronic pain and other ailments, the Uruguayan government will allow citizens to buy marijuana at pharmacies. In order to qualify, citizens must put their names down in a federal registry, remain confidential, and would only be allowed to purchase 40 grams a month.

For those who seek to travel to the South American country to smoke it up, don't book that flight to Montevideo just yet. The marijuana bill will only restrict legal purchases of the drug to Uruguayans, says the New York Times.

Health Concerns Of Marijuana For The Youth

The two-thirds of civilians who oppose the bill fear for the health of the younger generation. Gerardo Amarilla, an opposition legislator with Uruguay's National Party, said that "this is an adventure which may end up endangering an entire generation." The bill doesn't provide leniency to teenagers though, BBC reports. Under the Uruguay draft marijuana law, consumers have to be over 18 and registered. What's more, marijuana as a potentially fatal drug is not of concern, according to Brown University. The university says that it is virtually impossible to overdose on tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) from marijuana, which sets it apart from the majority of drugs.

Drug Abuse In Latin America

The war on drugs in Latin America has caused several countries tons of money spent in police enforcement to confront drug cartels. Former Mexican President Vicente Fox has witnessed for most of his presidency approximately 48,000 people killed in suspected drug-related violence in the country, reports CNN. Fox, a supporter of the legalization of marijuana, says that military force has not been effective in fighting the drug cartels but legalization could provide an alternative solution to the war on drugs. "We will control the criminals and reduce their income, and at the same time, it would become a transparent, accountable business in the hands of businessmen," said Fox to CNN's Wolf Blitzer in May.

For a list of top marijuana destinations around the world, click here.