Representatives from Uruguay have stated that the country has granted two licenses to companies to grow marijuana for the purpose of commercial distribution. They expect that the plant should be available in pharmacies by next year.
Uruguay was the first country in the world to legalize the cultivation and distribution of marijuana. The South American country hopes the action will take power away from drug gangs. The country also hopes to make money by taxing marijuana sales.
The government of Uruguay passed the legislation almost two years ago, but it has experienced difficulties in implementing new policies. The country had originally planned to distribute licenses allowing companies to grow marijuana one year ago.
According to the head of the Uruguayan National Drug Board Juan Andrés Roballo, “Twenty-two proposals were presented, and two licenses for production and distribution were given out.”
The two companies that were selected were Symbiosys and Iccorp. Both are startup companies that are being financed by funding from the government of Uruguay and foreign capital. The companies are now permitted to cultivate up to 4,000 pounds of marijuana on an annual basis. The government says that they plan to provide security for the facilities of the two companies.
Uruguayan President Jose Mujica’s decision to legalize marijuana placed the small South American country on the global map, as the country became the first country in the world to outright legalize the recreational use of marijuana. The country makes the majority of its money in the agricultural sector by producing cattle.
The law allows each household in Uruguay to grow up to six marijuana plants, and users will be permitted to purchase up to 40 grams of marijuana per month at designated pharmacies. Growers and users will be required to register with the country.
Roballo said that marijuana would be for sale in the country’s pharmacies in less than eight months. The country has faced challenges in regulating and pricing marijuana.
The new policy is being closely monitored in Latin America, where the legalization or decriminalization of marijuana is widely gaining attention as a better way to end violence caused by drug trafficking than a traditional “war on drugs”.