Uruguay is making headlines after it approved the final step in a sweeping campaign to legalize cannabis. Beginning in July, the South American country will begin selling recreational over-the-counter weed in pharmacies.
So far, 16 pharmacies have signed up with the Uruguayan government to begin selling weed this summer. But there will likely be more in the coming months. In fact, government officials expect there to be somewhere around 30 pharmacies in total.
When the new laws go into effect this July, pharmacies that have registered with the government will be allowed to sell weed over the counter.
To begin with, pharmacies will be given access to 400 kilograms — or approximately 882 pounds — of legal cannabis.
They will be required to sell it in 5-gram containers, which is roughly 0.18 ounces. And the government will be in charge of setting the price.
As of now, pharmacies must sell weed for US$1.30 per gram. In the future, stores may be allowed to sell 10-gram packets of cannabis
Only adults 18 years and older will be allowed to buy over-the-counter recreational weed. And before they can make their first purchase, they have to enroll in a government registry. The registry is set to open on May 2.
Even after getting their names on the registry, individuals will be limited to 40 grams — or 1.41 ounces — of herb per month and 10 grams per week.
Currently, only Uruguayan citizens will be allowed to enroll in the program. Tourists from other countries will not be allowed to buy over-the-counter cannabis.
Uruguay’s Cannabis History
This is the latest step in the country’s efforts to legalize weed. In 2013, the country passed legislation to make cannabis legal. But actually rolling it out has taken longer than expected.
In fact, there were some delays since 2013. Originally, the government hoped to let pharmacies sell weed back in 2014. This summer’s changes will be the culmination of those efforts.
The government hopes that strict regulations will make weed as safe as possible. And that includes both from a health perspective and a crime perspective.
The use of dangerous pesticides has been an issue for many places that have tried to legalize cannabis. But Uruguay hopes to avoid those problems.
Juan Roballo, head of the country’s National Drug Board, said that regulations would “guarantee the quality and the purity of the product.”
But Roballo said there are more benefits from a strictly regulated market. Specifically, he said it would undermine the black market for weed.
“This is not to promote it, but to compete with the informal market,” he said.
The Final Hit
These changes make Uruguay one of the most progressive countries in the world when it comes to cannabis laws.
There is a growing move to decriminalize drugs around the world. For example, last year the Global Commission on Drug Policy issued a statement to the UN.