On Wednesday, pharmacies in Uruguay finally began selling cannabis directly to consumers after a long legalization effort that began over 3 years ago. Registered users will be able to purchase 5 gram (0.18 ounce) sealed packets for $6.50 each. In 2013, Uruguay became the first country in the world to pass a law legalizing the recreational use, sale, and cultivation of marijuana.
Any citizen over the age of 18 can register to purchase cannabis by using a fingerprint recognition. Individuals can buy up to 40 grams (1.41 ounces) ranging from two brands called ‘Alfa 1’ and ‘Beta 1’ monthly for their personal use. These varieties have a very low content of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) which is the active ingredient in the plant that makes users high.
Companies Symbiosis and Iccorp grow, package, and distribute cannabis after being authorized by the state. Production is carefully monitored to prevent from being sold to foreigners or leaving the country.
During the presidency of ex guerrilla Jose Mujica, the legislation took effect in hopes to crack down on drug trafficking, allowing the government to regulate and tax a market that was being run by criminals. Mujica also promoted other progressive reforms in Uruguay but 60% of Uruguayans opposed the cannabis legislation. Since 2014, the plan was moving at a slow rate and authorization for pharmacies to sell cannabis was postponed many times. Now, other countries in Latin America have moved toward allowing cannabis for medical use.