We totally saw it coming.
In case you haven’t heard, Uruguay is the first country in the world to legally grow and harvest marijuana seedlings since last year in order to sell recreational weed. And as soon as the first 400 kilos of high quality marijuana hit the stands this week, consumers flocked to selected pharmacies all over the country to try it. The result? They were sold out in a day.
The law that regulates the production and direct sale to consumers was passed during the José Mujica administration. The former president personally promoted the bill arguing that it would help fight drug trafficking. The piece of legislation ignited a worldwide debate about whether or not it’s a good idea to make weed available in pharmacies, and even though many celebrated it in Uruguay, many others (65 percent of the population, to be exact) in the neighboring country continue to oppose it.
Still ,since yesterday, consumers have three different (legal) ways to get their fix: buying them in authorized pharmacies, growing it at home or at cannabis clubs, which are kind of like “legal pubs” in which you can try three different kinds of marijuana.
So far there are only sixteen pharmacies in Uruguay that are authorized by the government to sell recreational weed. And those interested in buying it will have to have their fingerprints scanned every time they buy a bag so pharmacies can keep track of the total amount of weed each consumer is buying.
In order to buy weed in Uruguay you must be at least 18 years old and either be Uruguayan or have permanent legal residency in Uruguay. Consumers also need to be sign up in a special registry and so far over than 5000 people have joined.
Many are also criticizing the law arguing that people who need medical marijuana for therapeutic reasons such as Parkinson’s or cancer treatment are not able to buy the drug as easily as recreational weed consumers.
The law also has some controversial areas such as the privacy of the registered consumers. The secretary of Uruguay’s National Drug Committee, Diego Olivera, argues that the registration acts as a restriction to consumers, which seems to be a valid concern taking into consideration that over 160,000 people in the country have admitted to smoking weed regularly. Yet, only 5,000 hace joined the registry.
Only two varieties of legal marijuana are certified and allowed to be sold in pharmacies: Alfa 1 and Beta 1, also known by índica and sativa.
Alfa 1 has a psychoactive effect at a physical level while Beta 1 only has a strong effect on the brain. From a marketing standpoint, the índica tends to be linked to meditation and quietness while the sativa is usually associated with more extroverted activities and creativity. Some consumers, however, are already complaining about it having “very few psychoactive components” and saying that “it’s not as good” as the illegal kind. This doesn’t mean that they are not waiting for the second shipment to hit the shelves as soon as possible, of course.
Registered consumers are able to buy 10 grams of weed per week. The cost of each five grams’ wrapping is US$6.5, or about US$1.3 per gram.