Uruguay’s Market Opens to Foreign Growers
September 25th, 2014
Policy, Top News
Uruguay has been finalizing the terms of a tender for the 20 tons of marijuana that it intends to grow each year with hopes for a first crop by December. So far, 22 companies have registered to bid, including eight local companies, 10 foreign companies, and four partnerships. The government plans to led the winning bidders grow on secure government land – possibly including Army bases.
The country’s newly implemented adult-use marijuana program will have smokers register with the state, receive a buyer’s card, and then make monthly purchases of up to 20 grams from a local pharmacy. Government officials hope that the ease of access will discourage users from purchasing marijuana from back market dealers given the increased quality control and government okay.
Many researchers have also been drawn to the country in hopes that they will be able to conduct studies unencumbered by government intervention. Exporters have also been drawn to the country in hopes that they will be able to grow marijuana that can be sold locally and exported to legal jurisdictions, although the viability of these businesses remains largely uncertain given the industry’s infancy.
Despite the many problems remaining with implementation, there’s little double that legalized marijuana will help clean up the country. Some 60% of court cases in the country are related to drug trafficking, according to the Institute for the Regulation and Control of Cannabis, while 33% of people in prison were put there for committing a drug-related offense.
The potential for taxation also remains very high. In Uruguay, the marijuana industry was estimated to be worth $50 million per year last year, with most of the proceeds going towards illicit goods. Interestingly, the legalization came despite 64% opposition from Uruguayan voters, although 80% of marijuana users said they would purchase from the government rather than a dealer.
In the end, the world will be keeping a close eye on Uruguay as it moves forward with the legalization of adult-use cannabis.
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