On Wednesday, Uruguay’s cannabis market debuted with long lines that extended out the front doors of dispensaries in Montevideo.
The tightly-regulated legal cannabis industry of Uruguay brings it to the ranks of very few South American countries that have embraced legalization in some form. And it is quite a bit different than what we have seen here in the United States. Though adults can purchase their plant from a pharmacy at the low, low price of $1.30 per gram (compared to the common prices of American cannabis at $5-$15 per gram) without any special kind of card or permit, that is about as far as the cannabis industry’s allowed to go.
Despite the expected excitement of a legal cannabis market in Uruguay, it is also decidedly bland to buy from these dispensaries. There are only two strains available:
- Alpha I – An indica strain with 2% THC and 7% CBD
- Beta I – A sativa strain with 2% THC and 6% CBD
This means that not only is there not any kind of variety in products, but what two options are available are also not very potent. Edibles are not permitted, and there are very firm restrictions in terms of packaging for these products, which are mostly consumed by Montevideo residents. Only 1/3rd of the 4,000 registered cannabis consumers live outside of Montevideo. Those who intend to consume cannabis that’s been provided by the government must submit to registering with their fingerprint.
Strict rules and policies aside, this is still a tremendous breakthrough-and it’s got Uruguayan citizens rejoicing. People are thrilled to not have to resort to the black market anymore to obtain cannabis. Registered consumers can purchase up to 40 grams per month.
Ninety cents of each $1.30 gram sold goes to funding the two government-chosen cultivators of cannabis, with the remaining amount being split between the pharmacies that dispense it, and the government.
The Uruguayan government intends to use a portion of these proceeds to enhance countrywide prevention programs.
Photo by ana_ge