In Uruguay, You Can Now Buy Weed Over the Counter

Marijuana | © Bob Doran/Flickr
Harry Stewart

Uruguayan hippies rejoice, cannabis is now officially legal. Legislation finally came into force on July 1, 2017 enabling dope to be purchased legally over the counter at pharmacies throughout the nation. This unprecedented move makes Uruguay the most progressive country in the world in terms of marijuana reform.

Loved by over 40s

July 1st was the culmination of a lengthy campaign that began back in 2013. Lawmakers had originally intended to legalize herb in 2014, but a series of delays and legal objections from conservatives hindered the process. Although the possession, sale and cultivation of the chronic is indeed now legal, there are some restrictions worth taking into account.

An eye on ganja

Only government licensed pharmacies are allowed to sell grass legally. Currently, there are 16 registered throughout the country, but many more are expected to open in the coming years. An initial quota of 880 pounds (400 KG) of reefer will be distributed at first, but as that begins to dry up, plenty more skunk will be brought in to take its place. Mary Jane must be sold at the government fixed price of US$1.30 per gram, a pittance compared to what it used to fetch on the black market.

Customers looking to buy some legal sticky-icky must be over 18, Uruguayan nationals and join a government register. Sales are restricted to 5 grams of roach per transaction, with a maximum 40 grams to be sold per customer per month. Other than that, Uruguayans are free to take hits from the bong as they please.

The sticky-icky

This new legislation follows a wave of drug reform policy from around the world as governments look for new ways to tackle the war on drugs. In the U.S.A, for example, several states have legalized pot in recent years although 420 still remains illegal at the federal level. Uruguay’s new legislation makes it the most ganja friendly nation on earth, even more so than the traditional smoke haven of Holland.

Aside from freeing up the country’s legal and prison system, Uruguayan lawmakers see legalization as being beneficial to national health. Legal weed will “guarantee the quality and the purity of the product”, said Juan Roballo, the head of the National Drug Board. It also serves to undercut the black market, reduce organized crime and increase tax revenue. “This is not to promote it, but to compete with the informal market,” Roballo said.

Puffing the herb

But those of you already on Skyscanner looking for flights to Montevideo are fresh out of luck. For the time being, over the counter maui wowie is strictly only available to Uruguayan citizens.

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