On July 4th 2013, the country of Uruguay passed a bill in favour of total legalization of marijuana for its citizens (Read about it here). Since then, the world has been lauding the revolutionary choice made by the Uruguayan Parliament, and by President Mujica, who has supported the initiative since its early stages. Indeed, while some countries do authorize medicinal cannabis, and while some American states have been making the same movement of peace towards the multi-purpose plant, Uruguay will soon be the first country to sell cannabis legally, for recreational and medicinal purposes alike.
The Final Decree
A few cornerstones of the forthcoming plan to make cannabis available to Uruguayan citizens had already been unveiled as the government drafted its rules for this burgeoning new industry. The basics of the new policy consist of cannabis being controlled by the government in terms of import, export, cultivation, harvest, production, acquisition, storage, marketing and distribution.
On May 6th 2014, the final decree bearing all details of the new policy was introduced to the rest of the world, describing at length every single aspect of the market, in order to leave close to no doubt regarding the course of action for any situation or problem that could arise. This decree consists of 104 articles, each dealing with a different aspect of the policy. Among other things, rules in regards to industrial growing, users’ privacy, price and personal growing are clearly defined.
Industrial Cannabis Growing & Price
While the decree has been approved, it will only be applied after the next presidential elections in Uruguay, taking place on October 26th, 2014. In the meantime, according to the aforementioned decree, six private companies to be selected by the government will be responsible for growing the cannabis that will be available in pharmacies in a few months. These companies have not been chosen yet, but the ultimate goal of the involved politicians will be to favour entities that not only have the desired skills and facilities to handle this new cash crop, but also have never had any ties to the national cannabis black market or to drug trafficking in general.
Some of the items announced before the decree was approved remain the same; citizens will be able to buy cannabis once per week, with a maximum of 10 grams per person. On the other hand, the originally announced price of €1 per gram has not been respected, but for the better: each gram of cannabis will be sold at between €0.87 and €0.95, which equals approximately €35 for 40 grams.
User Privacy & Personal Growing
One of the main goals of President Mujica with this new policy is to offer a better solution to end the war on drugs, by making the black market increasingly irrelevant, and by protecting average users from prosecution. It is therefore no surprise that besides the question of pricing, another important issue was also expected to be addressed, which is the identification and registration of users.
The Uruguayan government, per the final decree, opted for a registration system based on an algorithm built from fingerprints, which according to them, will not bear any personal information susceptible to making average users feel “tracked” for their use of cannabis.
These two points, on top of the presumably optimal quality of the cannabis soon-to-be-produced by legal Uruguayan growers, should turn what many call an “experiment” into a clean, pragmatic success and a turning point in the war on drugs.
During the two years this legalization process has taken, President Mujica spoke on several occasions about this revolution being a necessary trial for his country, and beyond. Hopefully, the positive impact of such a change in the way humanity apprehends the cannabis plant will soon have many positive outcomes all around the world.
You can read the full decree in Spanish here.
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