Uruguay, the first nation in the world to fully legalize cannabis, is about to launch its legal marijuana market, an undertaking that will lead to the cultivation of somewhere between 6 to 10 tons of weed annually to be distributed throughout the country.
Earlier this week, Milton Romani with the National Drug Board announced that the program’s initial plan of selling weed at a rate of $1 per gram would be close to on target with those projections. According to reports, the government’s leading drug official explained that residents will be able to purchase weed in local pharmacies for around $1.40 a gram.
Romani also told reporters that the world’s first national cannabis industry was set to get underway very soon and that “we just need to fine-tune the software for registration and pharmacy sales” before it can become functional.
Uruguay technically legalized marijuana in December of 2013, but it has taken some time to determine who would receive cultivation licenses, as well as develop an overall scheme for bringing legal cannabis to market. However, Romani suggests it is only a matter of months before legal sales begin.
Although the law comes with some restrictions, it will provide the rest of the world with a blueprint for perhaps implementing similar regulations in the future. The program may not establish a tourist trade in the image of American states like Colorado and Washington, but it does provide Uruguayan citizens the ability to purchase just over an ounce of weed every month and engage in home cultivation. There is also the option for residents to take part in community cannabis clubs, which allow members to grow together and share product.
Simbiosis and Icorp, the two companies selected to produce all of the cannabis for the entire country, began growing a strain indigenous to the area called “charrua cannabis.” And with some 160,000 residents expected to start smoking this native strain very soon, the government expects to grow around “10 tons” a year.
When former President Jose Mujica moved to pass a measure legalizing marijuana, it was perceived as an experimental process for which to monitor the impact legal sales had on the black market. Romani suggests the nation still plans to study the effects of legalization to determine whether Mujica’s vision for Uruguay was on point.
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