Uruguay, a country in the southeastern region of South America, is often considered to be one of the most socially progressive countries in Latin America. The country never criminalized personal possession of drugs. In fact, it was the first country to legalize cannabis in 2013. Canada followed the move in 2018 and became the second country to legalize hemp.
In 2013 President Jose Mujica signed the legislation to legalize recreational cannabis in the country. A pharmacist in his article at BBC recalls that he sold 1250 packages of hemp on the first day it was legalized. There was a two-block queue just to buy it. This long queue problem is still relevant; the growth of the hemp industry was slow even after 3 to 4 years since it was legalized. This was mainly because of the US’s strict finance laws on controlled substances. Due to US finance laws, pharmacists often find themselves in conflict with their banks. Up until 2017, in a country with a population of more than 3.5 million people, only 17 pharmacies were selling cannabis.
Another reason for the slow growth of the cannabis industry was the government’s concern over insecurity and public safety. Policymakers and regulators wanted to take things slow and make sure every law is perfect and that people strictly comply with all the regulations. However, in February 2019, the government finally started accepting licenses for commercially growing hemp in the country.
Is Cannabis Legal in Uruguay?
The use of recreational hemp is allowed as per the country’s marijuana legislation.
Can you buy Hemp in Uruguay?
To buy cannabis, you must be a Uruguay citizen or a permanent resident of at least 18 years of age. This means that a tourist can not buy hemp in Uruguay. It is readily available at government-run pharmacies.
Is there any restriction on the consumption of hemp?
Beware that you can not buy more than 40 grams or 1.4 oz of hemp per month (10 grams per week) for recreational use. This law is strictly followed. You will have to register yourself before buying hemp. Then at the shop, you will have to give your fingerprint to actually verify that you are registered and have not exceeded your limit for consuming hemp.
Can You grow hemp flower or Cannabis plant?
The law passed in 2013 by the country’s parliament allows the planting, cultivation, and harvesting. However, there is a specific restriction on growing hemp at home. A Uruguayan citizen can grow up to six plants at home. The total yield of marijuana (cannabis) should not be more than 480 grams. On the other hand, commercial growers must hold a license to grow and sell hemp. Approved commercial growers have an annual production quota of 2000 kilograms of dried flowers. Crops of hemp/cannabis must be approved by the Ministry of Agriculture and registered with the Institute of Regulation and Control of Cannabis (IRCCA). Those that produce seeds must also do so in the National Seed Institute (INASE).
What concentration of THC is considered psychoactive in Uruguay?
According to the parliament’s law, any cannabis product with a THC content of more than 1% will be considered psychoactive.
Where can you buy Hemp in Uruguay?
You can only find cannabis in pharmacies. However, only a handful of pharmacies offer cannabis to the 3.5 million population of Uruguay. That is why you will find long queues in front of pharmacies that do sell hemp.
Can hemp producers promote their products?
The use of cannabis is legalized; however, there is a strict prohibition against the advertisement, marketing, and promotion of hemp.
Is lab testing mandatory?
According to the law, you are not required to get your hemp leaf or cannabis lab-tested as of yet.
Although, Recently, more and more countries are expected to legalize recreational hemp. This would cause the demand for hemp to rise in the near future. That is why many companies, especially the Canadian ones, are looking to produce hemp in Uruguay. This is mainly because the cost to produce this plant is double in Canada. Jordan Lewis, CEO of Fotmor Life Sciences, a cannabis firm in Uruguay, predicts that the number of countries legalizing the use of medical cannabis is expected to almost double to around 80 in the future, which would create a potential global market of $100 billion in the next ten years.