Starting today, new rules go into effect in Uruguay regulating the legal sales of cannabis to adults. But don’t go planning your vacation there yet, stoners. It remains illegal for non-Uruguayans to purchase or consume cannabis.
And even for those Uruguayans who want purchase, grow and use it are going to face some stiff regulations.
To start, the government plans to limit sales to an individual 40 grams each month. The government-grown marijuana would cost about $1 per gram, but users would have to register with the country and purchase the pot at licensed pharmacies. Individuals can grow up to six plants at a time per house and harvest up to 480 grams every year. Every cannabis user’s usage will be kept in government databases.
Marijuana plants will be available through clone-only programs and all of the cannabis will be genetically market to ensure that it doesn’t leave the country and to make sure that people aren’t illegally cultivating cannabis. There will be a total of five strains available and none will produce plants higher than 15 percent THC on average. Anyone caught with marijuana not bearing the genetic markers would face arrest.
Many of the rules are aimed at decreasing “drug use” in the country, according to government officials.
“What we now know is that we had a sustained increase in consumption during prohibition. This new reality, as we understand it, is going to change that, and it will be possible to implement better public policy to take care of those who abuse drugs,” presidential aid Diego Canepa told CNN this week.
Mujica earlier this month slammed Colorado’s form of limited legalization, saying that it goes unregulated and promotes use. He says his system is meant to help curb mariuana use while keeping it out of the hands of the cartels. He called Colorado’s system “a complete fiction” because it doesn’t track how much cannabis consumers purchase or limit them in any way beyond saying they can’t purchase more than 28 grams at a time. It is still illegal to posesss more than one ounce of cannabis in Colorado, but Mujica clearly doesn’t think that it’s an individual’s responsibility to follow that law and limits purchases in his country to just 10 grams a week.
In reality, his “legalization” is way more restrictive and is likely going to create criminals out of people not wanting to sign up as a recreational marijuana consumer with the government or grow government-sanctioned herb.
The government will begin taking applications from would-be growers and supplies should be available by the start of December when pharmacies will be allowed to begin selling the plant.