In 2013, Uruguay became the first country to officially legalize weed. This South American nation on the Atlantic coast nestled between Argentina and Brazil made headlines four years ago. But getting from there to here has been a lengthy process. Official sales of legal weed in Uruguay finally started in July after four years of laws in the making.
Although weed in Uruguay has been federally legal to possess since 1974, it was illegal to produce or purchase it. This has changed for Uruguay residents. Laws however, are far removed from what they are in Colorado.
Tourists flocking to Uruguay for a weed vacation won’t find the same scene of Colorado whatsoever. In fact, to buy weed legally in Uruguay, a person must have proof of residency…for at least two years. Registration must be done with the government, and sales are tracked with a person’s fingerprint.
What Legal Weed in Uruguay Looks Like
People who purchase legal weed in Uruguay are limited to 40 grams a month. If a person hits their limited supply, buyers beware. Go over 40 grams and you’re flagged for treatment or monitored to make sure you’re not selling on the black market.
Residents are allowed to grow up to six plants at home. Once, of course, they are registered with the government. Yields however, cannot exceed 17 ounces. People can start their own cannabis clubs though. These cannabis clubs can contain a maximum of 45 members, who can collectively grow 99 plants. Members can then withdrawal up to 40 grams each month.
Legal weed, which will only be sold in dispensaries, costs $1.30 a gram. On the street, a gram will cost you $3. Prices are set below black-market rates for a reason. Officials believe it cuts down on black-market activity and takes the power away from the cartels.
Not Everyone is Pleased with Uruguay’s Legal Weed Laws
While several stoners in Uruguay are rejoicing, not everyone is happy with the implemented changes. Take Daniel Vidart, 96-year-old author and long-time marijuana activist, for example. “This law actually stigmatizes marijuana more than it legalizes it.”
Vidart, who is a personal friend of former Uruguay President Jose “Pepe” Mujica, expresses his opinion of federal registration. “Why,” he asks, “should there be a registry of marijuana consumers and not one of alcohol consumers? Alcohol is a much deadlier drug. This law continues considering that marijuana smokers are so dangerous that they need to be counted by the government. And a registry is more or less safe as long as you have a democratic government, but it could become a weapon against consumers should the political mood change.”
When sales began in July, there were 16 registered pharmacies set to sell legal weed in Uruguay. At this time there were only about 5,000 registered users…out of a population of 3.5 million people.
As the first country to fully legalize legal weed, it seems like Uruguay still has some learning to do. Some people are pleased, but others believe policy is too strict. And that government control is too tight. All opinions aside, one thing holds true. Uruguay is still the first country where both medical and recreational weed are 100 percent legal.
What’s your opinion on the status of legal weed in Uruguay? Do you think the government should have so much control over sales and consumption? Or do you believe that as long as they’re doing it, at least they’re doing something right? We’d love to hear about it in the comments below.