Uruguay Marks First Legal Cannabis Harvest

Photo by Nico Escondido

This week, the two companies responsible for cannabis production in Uruguay began the country’s first legal harvest, claiming some 300 grams each from hundreds of plants grown in licensed indoor or greenhouse operations.

The president of the National Drug Board (JND), Juan Andrés Roballo, announced that “soon the first harvest from the licensed companies” will be hitting the nation’s pharmacies. The companies, International Cannabis Corp (ICCorp) and SIMbiosys, with facilities on the outskirts of Montevideo, planted in February under the close oversight of the government’s Institute for the Regulation and Control of Cannabis (IRCCA).

The harvest will continue next week; then another six weeks will be allotted for drying, manicuring and packing before it arrives in stores. This means that by August, Uruguayans will be able to purchase packets of five or 10 grams at 50 licensed pharmacies. The price is set at one euro or $1.20 per gram.

Stock at the drugstores, which will be closely monitored, is to be renewed every 15 days. Users will be able purchase up to 40 grams per month—with proper identification and their names registered. In addition to the licensed pharmacies (mostly in the Montevideo metropolitan area), there are 15 cannabis clubs registered, as well as some 3,000 individual growers. Clubs will be able to grow up to 99 plants and distribute 40 grams (about enough for that many fat joints) a month to up to 45 members.

Although there is no specific medical marijuana law, the Uruguay Medical Union is a developing a curriculum on medicinal use.

It certainly isn’t going to be the kind of freewheeling cannabis capitalism that has taken off in Colorado. The law bans the branding of cannabis strains or products and all advertising. And sales are off-limits to tourists—only Uruguayan citizens and legal residents can purchase the herb.

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