Legal weed will be cheap once it goes on sale in the South American nation of Uruguay, but it won’t be very strong, and residents won’t have access to very much of it.
The government announced in early May that it was setting the price for pot at less than $1 a gram,
the cheapest legal marijuana in the world. The government also released other regulations for the cannabis industry, including quantities and THC limits.
Uruguay legalized weed last year, and the drug is set to go on sale late this year. It will be sold in pharmacies across the country, and residents will be allowed to grow the plant at home.
Under the rules announced May 2, each household will be limited to six plants. Many had hoped the limit would be six plants per person.
Only five strains will be available in the country, none with THC content over 15 percent. That’s relatively tame weed, by most standards. And each buyer’s purchases will be tracked in a government database using a fingerprint ID system.
President Jose Mujica, who pushed for legalization last year, said he would be called a reactionary for the tight restrictions. But he said the government never intended to turn Uruguay into a hot spot for stoners.
“No addiction is good,” Mujica said. “We aren’t going to produce smoke fests, bohemianism, all this stuff they try to pass off as innocuous when it isn’t. They’ll label us elderly reactionaries. But this isn’t a policy that seeks to expand marijuana consumption. What it aims to do is keep it all within reasons, and not allow it to become an illness.”
The price of a gram of legal marijuana in Uruguay was set at 20 to 22 pesos, or about 90 cents. The same gram would sell for $10 to $20 in the United States, depending on the quality of the weed and the location of the sale.
Only residents will be allowed to buy, and they’ll be limited to 40 grams a month, about two joints a day on average. Of course, home growers can produce substantially more than that.
The chief of Uruguay’s Nationwide Drug Board estimated it takes 18 to 22 tons of cannabis to meet the country’s annual needs.
“Based mostly on this, we’d like at most 10 hectares” or 25 acres of crops, Julio Calzada said.
The strains and potency limits were chosen in part to compete with the extremely cheap weed that flows into Uruguay from nearby Paraguay. That pot accounts for almost all of Uruguay’s illegal supply.
“Partially, that’s as a result of they are saying it ‘provides a good hit’ and it is extremely low cost,” said Cesar Manuel Sosa, head of Uruguay’s counter-narcotics smuggling agency. “Marijuana sells for $20 a kilo in Paraguay.”