Later this month, residents of Uruguay will be able to go to a pharmacy to purchase government-approved marijuana. The price: a mere $1.30 per gram. Doctor’s notes won’t be required and recommendations won’t be needed.
Uruguay became the first country in the world to fully legalize marijuana, including production, sales and consumption, reported The Washington Post. There are, however, strict rules to follow. For instance, tourists won’t have access because proof of residency is required.
Edibles won’t be offered anywhere in the country. The goal of their government is to “make marijuana use as boring as possible.” The government will decide what the genetic makeup of the plants can be. They’ll also decide where to cap the THC percentage.
Uruguay’s government will regulate every aspect of the marijuana industry. Branding won’t be allowed, neither will advertising. Only two firms are authorized to supply pharmacies with their industrialized marijuana. The suppliers aren’t even allowed to add company labels to their packages.
Julio Calzada, a public health official in Uruguay designing their regulatory model, said, “The risk of what they’re doing in Colorado is that you end up with something like the tobacco industry. The concept here is totally different.” He continued, “To us, marijuana is a vegetable substance with a capacity to generate addiction, so what we’re trying to do is control the production, distribution and consumption of that substance as effectively as possible.”
Cultivation and personal use have been allowed for quite some time. There are already 60 marijuana clubs supplying members with a monthly stash. The government, however, has been slow to roll out its pharmacy-based commercial sales.
Sales to the general public are expected to begin by the end of July. Distribution to pharmacies will be coordinated by the Institute for the Regulation and Control of Cannabis (IRCCA).
Residents of Uruguay over age 18 are permitted to purchase up to 40-grams monthly. Thumb print identification will link each individual to the government’s database to help pharmacies know how much the individual has left available to purchase for the month. So far, more than 4,600 Uruguayans are registered.
Not everyone is thrilled about the thumbprint idea or registering into a government database. Human rights attorney, Martin Fernandez said, “A lot of consumers here don’t like the fingerprint system and point out that they don’t have to do anything like that to buy a bottle of wine. But we see it as something transitional that could disappear with time.”