EspañolThe Uruguayan government is to provide licenses for five pharmaceutical companies to produce and sell marijuana starting this summer, National Drug Board Secretary General Julio Calzada told press on Tuesday, February 10.
The country, a pioneer in legalizing cannabis production for local consumption over a year ago, has yet to apply rules to the market concerning the growth, packaging, and distribution of marijuana.
Calzada told Reuters that “pharmacy sales will happen in the first quarter, or in the middle of the year,” and that licenses will be issued in the coming days.
The authorities received a total of 22 investment bids to produce cannabis, but only 11 companies are to compete in the final round for the five licenses available. Pharmacies will be mandated to sell up to 40 grams per month to registered customers.
Official projections claim that initial investment in the measure will be around US$1.5 million, while businesses will eventually gain some $250,000 per year.
Calzada confirmed that 50 percent of the official system is currently in operation, with 2,000 people registered, including those who grow the plant at home, and regulated membership clubs.
Besides being able to buy in pharmacies, users will have the opportunity to grow up to six plants in their houses and apply for membership of smoking clubs.
It was anticipated that marijuana could be purchased in pharmacies before President José Mujica finishes his term in office on March 1.
However, Mujica, who initiated the law, will likely see the provision made a reality during the administration of his successor Tabaré Vásquez, who has disagreed with the sale of marijuana by businesses, citing security risks.