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. [More...]

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 marijuana.
  • 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."

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  • Display: Sort:
    A dollar a gram... (none / 0) (#1)
    by kdog on Wed May 07, 2014 at 01:40:52 PM EST

    That ban on tourists is odd though...that's just gonna create a 2 dollar a gram black market for visitors to Uraguay who don't know a licenced citizen consumer to buy for them.  I wonder if that was thrown in there to appease foreign powers.

    What is the consumer's cost for a gram in NY? (none / 0) (#3)
    by oculus on Wed May 07, 2014 at 03:05:00 PM EST
    20 bucks... (none / 0) (#4)
    by kdog on Wed May 07, 2014 at 03:16:23 PM EST
    for high quality, if you're lucky, some only get .8 grams for twenty.

    Been a long while since I've f8cked with dimes of regs, but 10 bucks should get you a gram or regs at the very least.  Back in my broked*ck mid-90's high-school days we'd drive to Bushwich for nickel bags of schwag that were almost two grams...but that weed s*cked something awful.


    Bags of seeds (none / 0) (#9)
    by Dadler on Thu May 08, 2014 at 10:15:32 AM EST
    Remember them well. Used to call it Mex in southern Cali. Smelled like the elephant cage at the zoo sometimes. Had to be good for us. ;-)

    Did the trick... (none / 0) (#12)
    by kdog on Thu May 08, 2014 at 10:38:27 AM EST
    these kids today don't know how good they have it...we should call it the dark-age strain;)

    Ditchweed Kush (none / 0) (#13)
    by Dadler on Thu May 08, 2014 at 10:42:10 AM EST
    Or maybe Pachyderm Haze.

    One wonders (none / 0) (#2)
    by Abdul Abulbul Amir on Wed May 07, 2014 at 02:38:53 PM EST

    Is the state's price advantage due to lower cost or due to a taxpayer subsidy?  Simply turning the black market into a white market would lower cost without the wasteful high tech tracking or licensing schemes.

    BTW, is there a reliable test for driving under the influence of MJ?

    I like the idea.. (none / 0) (#5)
    by desertswine on Wed May 07, 2014 at 08:21:54 PM EST
    of Cannabis Clubs.  Sounds fun.  

    They may want to (none / 0) (#6)
    by jbindc on Thu May 08, 2014 at 08:13:24 AM EST
    also consider solutions for the challenges Colorado is now facing - a marked uptick in the number of children being treated for eating marijuana laced foods.

    The study, published Monday in the Journal of the American Medical Association Pediatrics, compared the number of young children treated at the Children's Hospital Colorado emergency department for ingesting marijuana before and after the modification of Colorado's drug laws beginning in 2009.

    A total of 1,378 patients under age 12 were evaluated for unintentional ingestions - 790 before Sept. 30, 2009 and 588 after Oct. 1, 2009. The number of children treated for exposure to marijuana before Sept. 30 was zero. The number from Oct. 1 on was 14 with eight of those coming directly from consuming marijuana food products.

    Wang, a fellow at the Rocky Mountain Poison & Drug Center, said today's marijuana can be much stronger, and these products can contain higher concentrations of THC, the active ingredient in the drug. Some marijuana infused candy bars, for example, contain 300 milligrams of THC. Children who ingested the drug exhibited symptoms that included respiratory problems, extreme sleepiness, difficulty in walking and lethargy. Many underwent a battery of expensive tests to diagnose their problem because the history of exposure was not given, or medical professionals were not familiar with marijuana causing these symptoms.

    "Before the marijuana boom these kinds of edibles were not mass-produced and the amount of THC ingested was somewhat limited, but now we are seeing much higher strength marijuana," Wang said. "The key to this is prevention through child resistant packaging."

    Sure. (none / 0) (#7)
    by Abdul Abulbul Amir on Thu May 08, 2014 at 09:00:18 AM EST

    "The key to this is prevention through child resistant packaging."

    Its so obvious.  The persistence of the underage drinking problem is a mystery.


    I don't know... (none / 0) (#8)
    by kdog on Thu May 08, 2014 at 09:26:02 AM EST
    my moms needs her granddaughters to open child-proof pill bottles for her;)

    The key to prevention is parenting...in every household there are things children should not ingest.  Alcohol, Draino, Bleach, Elmer's Glue, Crayons, etc.  Nobody freaks out about the dangers of bleach in the house....it's such weak tea.  Don't blame legal edibles because you ain't minding your damn children.  


    Actually, (none / 0) (#10)
    by jbindc on Thu May 08, 2014 at 10:15:35 AM EST
    Most people do things like put bleach in cupboards with locks on them or in places kids can't reach.

    Can't say the same necessarily for things like brownies.


    That's my point... (none / 0) (#11)
    by kdog on Thu May 08, 2014 at 10:34:21 AM EST
    what kinda parent doesn't keep substances that may be harmful to children out of the reach of children?  If it is an issue at all, it is a parenting issue, not a marijuana edible issue.

    Human beings are not perfect (none / 0) (#14)
    by Abdul Abulbul Amir on Thu May 08, 2014 at 01:14:49 PM EST

    It is pretty near impossible to mistake a bottle of scotch for a bottle of apple juice.  Two brownies OTOH are another matter.  

    What's the point you're trying to make? (5.00 / 2) (#15)
    by kdog on Thu May 08, 2014 at 01:30:25 PM EST
    Go back to unlabeled whatsoever pot brownies sold in saran wrap on the black market?  

    The kids in my extended family have been in the same houses as pot and pot brownies (as well as alcohol and jello shots) all their lives...never had any issues.  

    I don't understand the pearl-clutching...is it disingeneous?  Never mind...of course it is.


    A stunning number of houseplants will do (none / 0) (#16)
    by Mr Natural on Fri May 09, 2014 at 11:22:10 AM EST
    much more serious, even fatal damage.

    IMHO, if the parents are too stupid to keep the goodies out of the hands of their kids, the parents are too stupid to propagate.

    That's evolution.