What can Canada learn from Uruguay legalizing weed?

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weed legalization

As the countdown to weed legalization in Canada continues to excite long-time advocates and recreational users, it is important time to reflect on what can be learned when it comes to legalizing Marijuana. Uruguay became the world’s first country to legalize cannabis when pharmacies started selling the product to consumers last summer and although there were a few starting challenges, as the world’s second country, Canada has an opportunity to step some extra strides.

How is Uruguay selling?

The South American country of 3.5 million has allowed cannabis to be sold at select pharmacies without the need for a prescription. But what are some of the rules that need to be followed?

  • Only citizens of Uruguay, not tourists, are allowed to purchase cannabis (this problem has encouraged the sale of the drug on the black market)
  • Each citizen is allowed to purchase up to 40 grams each month (since only 14 of the countries 1,200 pharmacies have applied to sell weed, access is incredibly limited for people)
  • The price of marijuana has been set by the government at $2.50 per gram (this was enacted to create complete government control over the product, as the prices were matched to black market prices and would have no resale value)
  • Only licensed pharmacies can sell weed (this makes it incredibly challenging for users to buy the substance, as currently many provinces still don’t have licensed pharmacies and can’t keep up with the demand. People are still buying weed on the streets for convenience)
  • Purchasers must be registered in order to buy
  • Growing companies must be licensed to product commercially (currently only two companies possess a license which has led to supply issues for purchasers)
  • Aspiring weed growers are permitted to join a registered cannabis club to grow their own plants (very exclusive, less than 45 members, can dispense up to 480 grams to each member yearly)
  • Citizens are also allowed to grow up to 6 plants for personal use

Yet, this small nation has some lessons to offer Canada and other nations that are taking the steps towards weed legalization.

“‘Uruguay has done well to keep with a strict regulatory model, while expanding the space,’ said John Walsh, co-director of drug policy for the Washington Office on Latin America. ‘If you start strict, it’s easier to loosen up later.’”

How will Canada be selling in comparison?

Canada has chosen to take a much looser approach to weed legalization, but is still focused on keeping cannabis away from youth, profits away from criminals and providing safe, legal access to everyone.

  • Adults above the age of 18 are allowed to legally purchase weed (this includes tourists)
  • People are allowed to possess up to 30 grams of legal cannabis in public (not a monthly amount, but the amount that is allowed on their physical person)
  • The price for marijuana will vary depending on the strain you want (a set price system, as of right now, is not the route Canada is taking)
  • Federal, provincial and territorial governments will oversee the system
  • Cannabis dispensaries will legally sell the substance (you don’t need to register, just show your ID at the door)
  • There will be strict requirements for producers growing and manufacturing weed
  • Each household is permitted to grow up to four plants for personal use

Are you excited for weed to be legal in Canada? Tell us about it in the comments section below.

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