People observe marijuana plants while visiting the

People observe marijuana plants while visiting the
“Expo Cannabis” forum in Montevideo
Thomson Reuters

MONTEVIDEO (Reuters) – Uruguay’s three-year process of legalizing
recreational cannabis consumption reached its final stage on
Thursday, when the government said it would authorize pharmacies
to begin selling the substance as of July.

Sixteen pharmacies have registered with the government of the
tiny South American country to be able to sell marijuana for
recreational purposes. That number is expected to increase to 30
in the coming months, said Juan Roballo, head of the National
Drug Board.

Uruguay became a global pioneer when it legalized the
cultivation, distribution and consumption of marijuana in late
2013. But the rollout has been slow, and the authorization for
pharmacies to sell cannabis — initially expected by the end of
2014 — has been postponed several times.

The government hopes the formalization process will “guarantee
the quality and the purity of the product” citizens consume,
Roballo said. The cannabis sold in pharmacies will be grown by
producers licensed by the state.

“This is not to promote it, but to compete with the informal
market,” he added.

Earlier stages of the process had authorized home cultivation of
marijuana for personal consumption, and through membership clubs.

The process will be heavily regulated by the government.
Pharmacies will have a total of 400 kilograms (882 lb) at their
disposal, an amount that could increase depending on demand,
Roballo said. They must sell the substance in 5 gram (0.18
oz)containers at $1.30 per gram, though 10-gram containers are
expected to be introduced later.

Interested Uruguayans 18 or older must enroll in a government
registry, set to open on May 2, and are limited to purchasing 40
grams (1.41 oz) per month and 10 grams (0.35 oz) per week.
Foreign tourists will not be able to purchase the drug.

(Reporting by Malena Castaldi; Writing by Luc Cohen; Editing by
Sandra Maler)

Read the original article on Reuters. Copyright 2017. Follow Reuters on Twitter.