Uruguay, the first country that legalized recreational marijuana in the world, is finally ready to launch a new cannabis program. According to the new legal measures, hundreds of pharmacies will start selling weed in July 2017.
Jose Mujica, former President of Uruguay, proposed to legalize the usage of cannabis for recreational purposes in early 2012. The citizens became allowed to grow up to six plants per household, as well as to join special clubs in order to pool their cultivations. The distribution and growing of weed for commercial purposes remained under the control of a state-run monopoly. However, the process of establishing the actual rules for the sale of marijuana in pharmacies had been stretched for several years.
The government has chosen only two companies among more than twenty applicants to run cultivation. Furthermore, just a few pharmacies have signed up to offer the herb.
Currently, approximately 160,000 Uruguayans out of the 3.3 million of the total population consume cannabis. Since the process of selling the plant remains to be unregulated, most of the consumers still get weed on the black market.
The government’s strict regulations of the industry, including severe quality control and comprehensive pricing system, are aimed to provide cannabis for only $1.30/gram in packs of five or ten grams. The customers will also need to sign up for a national registry, which is scheduled to be launched in May.
According to Uruguayan laws, there are no limits in cannabis possession per person. The maximum amount one customer can purchase per month will be 40 grams.
Uruguay is not likely to become the new tourist mecca. Non-citizens have to reside in the country for more than two years to buy cannabis.
Tabare Vazquez, the President of Uruguay, has surprisingly allowed the development of the new program to make the plant available in the country’s pharmacies. Previously, he had expressed concerns about the herb's safety.