Uruguay: First Nation To Legalize Marijuana Can’t Keep Up With Demand

By Aaron Kesel

Five years after becoming the first nation to fully legalize marijuana, Uruguay is struggling to keep up with the demand by consumers of cannabis, High Times reported.

The South American country was the first nation to legalize marijuana in 2013. However, the legal sales of cannabis began just last year and is still struggling to keep users within the law by purchasing from pharmacies. The law allows registered consumers to purchase up to 40 grams (nearly 1.5 ounces) of cannabis at participating pharmacies every month. There is just one problem: only 14 of approximately 1,200 pharmacies in the country have registered to sell cannabis.

The law further allows the growing of pot by licensed individuals and the formation of growers and users clubs.

Uruguay has an estimated 8,750 registered individual growers who are allowed to harvest up to 480 grams (a little over a pound) each per year.

An estimated 147,000 Uruguayans between the ages of 18 and 65 consume marijuana, with about a third of them using it weekly, according to CBS. But so far only about 35,000 have registered to use the legal marijuana system in the country. Even with legal users sharing their pot, Uruguay’s cannabis control institute says that the regulated market reaches just about half the country’s users annually.

Most of Uruguay’s 19 provinces still don’t have marijuana dispensaries, even though the number of people registered to buy at the pharmacies has jumped from 4,959 when the sales began in July 2017 to 24,117 today

Uruguay launched its government-regulated marijuana marketplace in an effort to fight rising homicide and crime rates linked with illicit drug trafficking. But so far, the killings have increased since pot became legal. Gang killings, most involving drugs, were responsible for 59 percent of the homicides during the first three months of this year, according to Interior Minister Eduardo Bonomi cited by High Times. Although that contradicts a report by Latin American news service Telesur which stated that drug-related crime has dropped 20 percent in the country since marijuana became legal in 2017.

Former President Julio Maria Sanguinetti, who opposed cannabis legalization, told Telemundo television that the plan is not working. “There have never been as many drug traffickers and drug violence as today,” he said. While Olivera of the National Drug Council suggested patience. “It’s going to be a year in July since the sale in the pharmacies began,” Olivera said. “We never thought about eliminating the black market in a short time; it was always a gradual thing. … This doesn’t happen overnight,” he said.

Further, the pharmacies have faced challenges in the past few months by Uruguay’s banks which have threatened to close the accounts of the pharmacies selling marijuana. The pharmacies have expressed that they are under pressure by U.S. banks which, as Aljazeera reports, U.S. law prohibits trade with any company linked to the marijuana industry.

In July of last year, Nevada’s Governor Brian Sandoval hilariously declared a state of emergency over recreational marijuana regulations after the Nevada Tax Commission reported a shortage of medical weed in its many stores, Activist Post reported. Although, that situation was due to a lawsuit between the state and Nevada’s liquor industry, which sued to get in on the business. Nevada’s tax authority claimed that most liquor retailers have yet to meet the requirements to be licensed to sell medical cannabis.

Nevada is the only state out of four other states — Colorado, Oregon, Washington and Alaska — where recreational marijuana is legal and requires alcohol distributors to transport the marijuana to dispensaries.

Both situations show that mainstream acceptance of marijuana is being held back by laws and financial institutions even if the drug is legalized, which undoubtedly will have an effect on the supply of the plant.

Aaron Kesel writes for Activist Post. Support us at Patreon. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Steemit, and BitChute. Ready for solutions? Subscribe to our premium newsletter Counter Markets.

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7 Comments on "Uruguay: First Nation To Legalize Marijuana Can’t Keep Up With Demand"

  1. Misleading headline — should be “Uruguayan laws are still throttling pot access and enjoyment” :-s

    Growers are only allowed to keep a pound a year? Are you sure that country isn’t being run by Americans???

    • Being from Washington it is always a little odd crossing an imaginary unmarked line where suddenly a legal activity can land me in prison.

      • Thanks for your reply. The situation is absurd. These damn politicians do nothing but play power games on people’s lives, including US Pezidents. They are a plague on the entire world!!! They HATE freedom because it cuts them out of umpteen loops. They’re all pharaohs at heart. Any actual good they do is highly pershable.

      • Marijuana will be legal everywhere in Canada for recreational use by July. I don’t live there, I live in a border town called Point Roberts WA. The border is not imaginary. Border guards do not respect state law and will bust anyone possessing marijuana if they catch someone who lives in Point Roberts WA trying to bring marijuana up from a store in Bellingham WA or Blaine WA or anywhere else in the state. (Point Roberts is an exclave, it is part of the State of WA that’s attached to the tip of the Tsawwassen (Canadian) peninsula that extends just south of the 49th parallel, which is the US/Canadian border, and its not imaginary. Its enforced by border patrol and US Customs. Its too bad the Federal Government has no respect for State laws. Big Pharma hates all non patentable natural substances because they cut into the sale of their toxic, patented prescription drugs. They really hate Marijuana because it has so many medicinal uses, especially for pain treatment. If marijuana were legal across the USA the way it is here in Washington state, it would be much easier to solve the huge epidemic of addiction to very dangerous opiode pain killing prescription drugs such as Vicadin, Oxycontin, Fentanyl because marijuana helps people who are suffering from chronic pain. CBD especially helps and you can’t get high from it, it doesn’t impair driving at all, yet it is nonsensically banned by US customs. This truly illustrates the political power wielded by Big Pharma which seeks to attack the natural products industry to suppress access to everything sold in health food stores and marijuana stores. Power corrupts, ABSOLUTE POWER corrupts ABSOLUTELY!

  2. This is the same BS that is going on in many so called legal US states. Massachusetts had legal medical MJ for years before the first dispensary opened up. The regulations are ridiculous even for growing your own and much of it is about the wealthy trying to make sure they corner the market on profits. 15K just to apply for license to open a dispensary.

    Meanwhile look at the tax revenue that Colorado has been collecting; so much the govt was going to have to return some of it. The smart thing to do would be to sell it like cigarettes. Legal everywhere as long as you are 18. Tobacco companies are already to start packaging it by the carton.and smoke shoppes could have even more options. The other problem is private prisons would no longer be full from easy busts of pot smokers.

    • No! The solution is not regulation. The solution is removing government from the business altogether. Hasn’t the war on drugs demonstrated enough of government’s complete failure to manage what it never had a right to manage to begin with? Who can seriously speak of freedom when the government can dictate, at gunpoint, what you can and cannot grow?

      • That would be nice but since the govt already regulates & taxes everything not likely mate. It is such an illogical argument that cigarettes & liquor can be sold by private companies [even though licensed & taxed] but not pot which is not bad for you on an even close comparison and in some cases actually treats illness.

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