Uruguay's government-run marijuana market begins rollout as president signs implementing rules

President Jose Mujica and his ministers have signed off on the long-awaited rules for Uruguay's legal pot marketplace, starting a rollout that should put government-approved marijuana cigarettes for sale in pharmacies by year's end.

By putting his government at the center of a legal marijuana industry, Mujica hopes to keep otherwise law-abiding citizens away from organized crime and treat addiction as a public health challenge rather than a law enforcement threat.

Opinion polls have said most Uruguayans are against the pot plan, but Mujica told The Associated Press in an interview Friday that his government has the right to experiment.

Otherwise, he says, societies are "condemned to paralysis" and to strategies like the "war on drugs" that are proven failures.