Legal marijuana sales are underway in Uruguay, the first country to officially legalize the plant for retail sale.
As of today (June 19) in Uruguay, marijuana is being sold in pharmacies throughout the country. As part of the country’s marijuana laws, those 18 and older are authorized to purchase up to 40 grams of marijuana for personal use. In order to combat the black-market, cannabis is being sold tax-free at roughly $1.50 a gram, exponentially cheaper than the price of marijuana in the eight U.S. states that have legalized the plant (where prices range from $10 to $18 a gram).
As part of the new law, first approved in 2013, marijuana clubs where up to 45 members can collectively produce up to 99 plants are also allowed. In addition, anyone 18 and older is authorized to grow up to six cannabis plants at a private residence, for personal use. Regulation for the new industry are overseen by the Institute for the Regulation and Control of Cannabis.
Hannah Hetzer, Senior International Policy Manager at the Drug Policy Alliance, calls the beginning of legal marijuana sales a “historic moment”, and says “Uruguay is boldly demonstrating that concrete alternatives to failed prohibitionist policies are possible.”
“Uruguay’s model will look quite different from the eight U.S. states that have legalized marijuana,” says Hetzer. “There is no one-size-fits-all marijuana legalization system. It’s important for each jurisdiction to tailor marijuana regulation to their local needs and contexts, providing the world with different models to learn from.”
The law that legalized marijuana was first proposed by then-President José Mujica, who was nominated in 2014 for a Nobel Peace Prize.