Uruguay to grow marijuana on government plot

Uruguayan President Jose Mujica proposed the landmark legalisation law to undermine drug trafficking. REUTERS/Andres Stapff
Uruguayan President Jose Mujica proposed the landmark legalisation law to undermine drug trafficking. REUTERS/Andres Stapff

Uruguayans will be able buy up to 10 grams of pot a week, enough to roll 20 joints, under new rules governing the recently legalised marijuana trade in the country, a government source said.

The source, who spoke on condition of anonymity because President Jose Mujica has not yet decreed the new regulations, said the government will auction up to six licenses to produce cannabis legally.

Mujica is expected to sign off on the rules in coming days. He proposed the landmark legalisation law to undermine drug trafficking.

Uruguay, the first country to legalise the growing and sale of marijuana, is being closely watched by other countries debating drug liberalisation.

Cannabis consumers will have to register with the government on a confidential list before making purchases from authorised pharmacies, according to the law passed by Congress in December.

The pharmacies can only be supplied by private growers authorised by the government, which will oversee quality and choose varieties. Individuals will also be able to grow up to six plants for personal use.

Uruguay has said it is also considering having marijuana grown on a plot of land controlled by the military to avoid illegal trafficking of the crop.

Ten to 20 hectares of marijuana would likely be enough to meet domestic demand, according to preliminary estimates.

Authorities have suggested setting the price for marijuana at $1 per ounce to compete with Paraguayan cannabis that has flooded the black market.

About 20,000 of the 3.3 million people who live in Uruguay are estimated to use marijuana every day.

The majority of Uruguayans oppose the new law, but do not want it repealed until its impacts can be assessed, according to a poll by the consulting firm Cifra.

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