President Jose Mujica signed Uruguay’s rules for their soon-to-be cannabis industry on Tuesday. The legal marijuana system is expected to start sales by the end of this year. The rules involve a legal age requirement of 18, a user registry, a home cultivation limit of six plants per household, and a maximum harvest of 480 grams per year. People that don’t want to grow their own can join a club that has a 99 plant limit.
Uruguay is the first nation to end cannabis prohibition and establish licensed and regulated commerce among adults. The world is watching how it will roll out, including the United States, which started legal recreational sales in Colorado earlier this year. If things work out in Uruguay, it could persuade more states to allow recreational marijuana sales. Hopefully, the legal cannabis industry in Uruguay will run smoothly and provide a model for other countries to follow.
The price of cannabis in Uruguay is expected to be under one dollar per gram, which is considerably less than what it costs in Colorado. The goal of President Mujica’s administration is to undercut the cartels, which are prolific in Latin America. There will be five strains for sale initially, with a cap of 15 percent THC content. A fingerprint identification system will be utilized to track purchases to ensure that no one buys more than the 10 grams a week limit.
Legalization in Uruguay, similar to legalization in Colorado, will create countless business opportunities inside and outside of the country. Cannabis businesses create cultivation and sales jobs and there are also ancillary businesses that support the cultivation and sales jobs, creating even more jobs. The public sector benefits from saving law enforcement resources that can go to fight real crime, which is something that every Latin American country desperately needs.
While its regulations aren’t perfect, it is great to see a country tackling the ills of prohibition directly by implementing a licensed and regulated system that will only benefit the country’s economy and start to curtail drug cartels’ influence in the cannabis trade. Good luck, Uruguay, the world is watching.