Adult consumers can now purchase cannabis at dispensaries in Uruguay after recreational marijuana became legal over three years ago.
Uruguay’s legal adult use marijuana market finally launched last week after recreational marijuana was legalized nearly four years ago. The small South American country, with a population of 3.4 million people, has become the first in the world to legalize and regulate recreational marijuana.
Federal officials initially approved marijuana legislation in 2013. The move immediately ended Uruguay’s criminal prohibition of cannabis. The law allows citizens to cultivate up to six plants per household, provided they’re registered with the government, and participate in collective cultivation clubs. Nearly 7,000 people have registered to grow their own cannabis.
Establishing a system for the state-controlled production and sale of marijuana took years to work out, but marijuana finally became legal to purchase for adults over the age of 18 under regulations that went into effect July 19. The Ministry of Public Health oversees rules and regulations governing the distribution of marijuana. Citizens interested in purchasing cannabis must first officially register with the government. So far nearly 5,000 have done so.
Sixteen pharmacies in Uruguay are now dispensing marijuana to adults. In an effort to undercut illegal drug traffickers, prices have been capped at roughly $13 dollars for 10 grams ($1.30 per gram). Citizens are limited to purchasing up to 40 grams per month, and sales to foreign tourists are not permitted under the law.
“The great responsibility we have in Uruguay is to show the world that this system of freedom with regulation works better than prohibition,” Educardo Blasina, the founder of the Montevido Cannabis Museum, told the New York Times.
Registered citizens can choose between two brands of cannabis flower — an indica strain called “Alfa 1” and a sativa variety called “Beta 2.” Both varieties contain a relatively low level of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the active compound that causes a high. Sebastian Scaffo, who runs one of the pharmacies approved to sell recreational marijuana, said he sold 15 packets in the first hour.
Ninety cents of every $1.30 per gram sold goes to the two businesses authorized to cultivate the plants. The remaining $.40 is split between the pharmacies and the government, which will use its share to fund prevention programs and public awareness campaigns.
Since Uruguay passed its marijuana law, other countries in Latin America have moved toward ending cannabis prohibition. Argentina legalized medical marijuana earlier this year and will soon distribute products to patients free of charge. Colombia, Puerto Rico, and Chile have also recently legalized cannabis products for medical purposes. In Brazil, legal medicinal cannabis products are available to import through HempMeds Brasil™. Mexico, which has allowed the import of HempMeds® Mexico’s cannabidiol (CBD) hemp oil since 2016, also just recently announced it would legalize medical marijuana.
Additionally, eight U.S. states and Washington D.C. have legalized recreational use and 29 plus Washington D.C. have passed laws allowing medical marijuana. Canada, which has already legalized marijuana for medical purposes, is poised to legalize marijuana for adult use by next year.
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