Uruguayan President Jose Mujica has signed into law legislation making Uruguay the first country to create a legal, state-regulated marijuana industry. Mujica quietly signed the bill Monday night, the Associated Press reported.
Presidential secretary Diego Canepa confirmed the signing Tuesday.The signing was the last formal step in a process that began a year and a half ago, when Mujica’s government first bruited the idea of legalization as a means of combating crime related to the black market.
Government officials now have 120 days to craft regulations for the marijuana market. Those regulations will deal with everything from growing to selling it in a network of pharmacies, as well as establishing rules around collective grows. The world’s first government-regulated marijuana marketplace should be up and running by mid-year next year.
But in the meantime, people can now begin growing their own marijuana at home–up to six plants per family–and keep an annual harvest of up to 480 grams (about one pound and one ounce).
Uruguay’s neighbors are already beginning to take note. The governments of Argentina and Chile have already signaledthat they will be taking new looks at marijuana policy in the wake of the Uruguayan move.