World history was made Tuesdays when Uruguayans became the first people to register for a cannabis program OK’d by the country’s federal government. The Netherlands has decriminalized marijuana on a federal level and Canada will legalize cannabis next year, but Uruguay is about to roll out the first ever federally legal cannabis program.
The new program requires anyone who wants to buy state-legal weed to register with their name and fingerprints. No individual will be permitted to purchase more than 40 grams (1.4 ounces) of bud in a single month.
In just a few weeks, Uruguayans will be able to buy marijuana at pharmacies (no prescription necessary), making cannabis legally akin to aspirin or mouthwash. The secretary general of the National Drugs Council said the state’s weed will go for $1.30 a gram, about half as much as the street price, according to a registrant who spoke recently to The Telegraph.
“What the hell kind of weed are they getting for $1.30 a gram?” you might ask. We don’t know for sure. Anecdotal reports on PriceOfWeed.com (which might be false) say in the last few years you could acquire medium quality stuff for $75 an ounce or high quality for $100 an ounce on the black market.
What we do know about legit cultivation in Uruguay is it is being handled by private companies, who grow their stuff in secret, regulated facilities. It also won’t be available to foreigners. Unlike virtually every other state or nation with a liberal attitude toward cannabis (Colorado, Canada, the Netherlands), Uruguay is not trying to court marijuana tourism. Only citizens or foreigners with permanent residency permits can register to get the legal weed.
One other very strange fact about weed legalization in Uruguay, especially given that it is a world first, is that it is not very popular in the country. In 2013, when lefty wildcard then President Jose Mujica signed marijuana legalization into law, about two thirds of Uruguayans opposed the measure.
In conjunction with the opening of cannabis registration on Tuesday, the government put out a series of online videos on the health risks associated with cannabis. In addition, marijuana registration receipts were printed with the number of hotline for drug abuse information and help. On the other hand, the government says legalization will curb crime and violence associated with the country’s drug trade.
“This is a great step forward in the evolution as citizens,” Marcos Ferreira, a cannabis registrant told the Telegraph. “Uruguay is innovating to see if we get results.”
Photo via Flickr user Vince Alongi