By Matt Sledge, The World Post

Uruguay is considering using medical marijuana to treat prison inmates addicted to a crude and cheap form of cocaine, one of the country's top health officials said at the United Nations.

The South American country made headlines last year when it became the first in the world to legalize the sale of marijuana. Now, as Uruguay prepares to implement its pioneering legislation, health leaders are considering possible uses for medical forms of marijuana -- including in prisons, where many of the incarcerated are addicted to drugs.

"Pasta base" -- also known as "paco" -- is cocaine base paste, a byproduct of the cocaine refining process. The cheap drug swept through Uruguay and neighboring Argentina during the 2000s, leaving public health officials struggling to control its fallout.

Research on medical marijuana's efficacy in treating addiction to other, "hard" drugs like pasta base appears limited. But other countries, such as Colombia, have begun considering projects seeking to use marijuana to treat addicts.

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