Uruguay Releases Guidelines for Legal Marijuana Market

Uruguay is the first country to legalize the production, sale and consumption of marijuana. It released the new rules today. A copy in Spanish is here.

The government will control every facet — including setting the price. Pot will initially cost around $1.00 per gram, in an effort to freeze out the black market. The government agency calling the shots is called the Institute for Regulation and Control.

Today we know that trying to eliminate marijuana has not been an effective measure and has only caused more problems. The marijuana market already exists and is controlled by drug trafficking.

The agency is made up of:

The IRCCA shall be composed of the Ministry of Public Health, the Ministry of Livestock, Agriculture and Fisheries, the Ministry of Social Development and the National Drug Council, among others. It will be the agency responsible for the regulation and generating reports for ongoing evaluation.

Three types of licenses are being granted: production, commercial sales and personal use. There are four types of authorized use:

  • Individuals can grow 6 plants at home with a maximum of 480 grams (just under 1 pound) a year.
  • Cannabis clubs can have between 15 and 45 members with production limits apportioned between them.
  • Individuals can purchase up to 40 grams a month from the state licensed stores.
  • Medical users can get a permit from the Minister of Public Health.

The production of Hemp is also authorized by the new law.

What's prohibited:

  • Sale to minors
  • Driving Under the influence of marijuanaWoe to those who drive under its influence.
  • Production without authorization
  • Smoking in public
  • Advertising

Currently, illegal marijuana activity in Uruguay amounts to $30 million a year. By redirecting the market to legal sales, the country can gain a large share of that money and use the proceeds to fund public education, prevention and treatment programs. Via CNN, Presidential Aide Diego Canepa says:

It's about creating rules that will refocus government efforts on prevention and taking the market from the hands of ruthless drug traffickers that only care about money.

U.S. citizens should not bother to go to Uruguay for the near-free pot. According to President Jose Mujica:

The law doesn't give foreigners the right to smoke or even buy the drug. In fact, consumers, sellers and distributors all have to be licensed by the government.

Here's how highly regulated the market will be:

With the help of state-of-the-art technology, authorities will track every gram or marijuana sold, according to Canepa. Bags will be bar-coded. The genetic information of plants that are legally produced will be kept on file. This will allow police to determine whether illegal marijuana is being commercialized.

President Mujica told CNN:

“If we legalize it, we think that we will spoil the market (for drug traffickers) because we are going to sell it for cheaper than it is sold on the black market. And we are going to have people identified,” he said.

Uraguayans who choose to buy or grow pot will be registered in a confidential database, according to Reuters.

Activists expect the pot to be high quality. A member of the Cannabis Liberation Movement tells Reuters:

“You can't compare a flower that is quality-controlled by the Public Health Ministry … with Paraguayan (stuff) which is absolutely harmful because it has external substances.”