Landmark Law in Uruguay
In December 2013, Uruguay became the first country in the entire world to legalize the whole chain of marijuana production and sale, from growing the plant to buying and selling its flowers.
Though the Netherlands had their cannabis cafes, and many countries had started decriminalizing marijuana, Uruguay was the first country to completely legalize every part of the production, growth, sale, and consumption of it.
In 2013, the bill was approved by their Senate 16-13, and allowed Uruguayan residents 18 or older and registered on a government database to buy a maximum of 40 grams each month from licensed pharmacies. Each could grow up to 6 plants at home or could form smoking clubs of up to 45 people and grow 99 plants.
“We begin a new experience in April. It involves a big cultural change that focuses on public health and the fight against drug trafficking,” Uruguay’s first lady, Senator Lucía Topolansky, told Reuters.
This attempt to slow drug trafficking by making illegal drugs legal, therefore unnecessary to smuggle, has been watched and followed by many Latin American countries, including Brazil and most recently, Mexico.
Philanthropist George Soros supported the 2013 bill, saying that it was an interesting experiment that first world countries should pay attention to and that it could provide an alternative to the failed United States war on drugs.
Recreational Use On Sale Starting This Week
Now, on July 19, 2017, legal sales of adult-use recreational marijuana are starting! Over 5000 customers have already signed up in a country of 3.3 million. The sale of cannabis is limited to legal or naturalized citizens.
The cannabis is going to be available at some pharmacies in the country in 5-gram amounts and will be stamped with a security stamp verifying authenticity and a warning from the Cannabis Regulation and Control Institute.
For citizens to register, 65 post offices across Uruguay started accepting registration applicants in May of 2017, which included being fingerprinted and put in a countrywide database. The process also includes showing ID and proof of address and filling out a demographic form for statistical purposes. The process takes just 5 minutes and can be done in all 19 provinces.
Each person’s cannabis purchases will be tracked and each will not be able to purchase more than 40 grams per month.
Uruguay citizens have been allowed to smoke at home and in clubs and even grow their own cannabis plants for four years now, but this will mark the first public sales of recreational-use cannabis.
There have been delays, but now the recreational sales are about to begin!
Some of the regulations for the marijuana sales as reported by MJ Biz Daily:
- Marijuana will be cultivated at undisclosed locations near the capital, Montevideo, by private firms under state regulation.
- Only Uruguayans or foreigners with permanent residency status will be allowed to purchase adult-use cannabis.
- Registered customers – they must be fingerprinted to sign up – will be limited to 1.4 ounces (40 grams) per month.
- A gram of marijuana will cost $1.30, which one person told AFP is “less than half the price on the black market.” (The government’s goal when it approved recreational marijuana was to compete with black-market sources.)
The cannabis is currently being grown at “secret plantations” near Montevideo by privately owned companies and regulated by the government.