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Long Lines, $1.30 Grams Mark Uruguay’s Legal Cannabis Debut

July 20, 2017
Diego Zas shows two bags of legal cannabis he just bought at the Antartida drugstore in downtown Montevideo, Uruguay. Marijuana went on sale at 16 pharmacies on Wednesday, the final step in applying a 2013 legalization law. (Matilde Campodonico/AP)
MONTEVIDEO, Uruguay (AP) — Marijuana aficionados lined up at pharmacies across Uruguay on Wednesday to be among the first in the South American nation to legally buy pot as a law regulating its sale took full effect.

Customers sniffed pungent green buds and grinned as they showed off blue-and-white envelopes containing the plant, which is now available as part a 2013 measure that made Uruguay the first nation to legalize a cannabis market covering the entire chain from plants to purchase.

Patients were greeted with low prices (about $1.30 per gram, compared to $5-15 grams in legal American states) but limited selection and low potency. Only two strains are initially available: One is an indica, called Alpha I, with 2% THC and 7% CBD; the other is a sativa, Beta I, with 2% THC and 6% CBD.


Santiago Pinatares, a 35-year-old construction worker, braved freezing temperatures in the capital, Montevideo, as he waited outside one of the 16 pharmacies authorized to sell marijuana. He said he has been smoking cannabis since age 14 but had no choice but to buy on the black market until now.

“To be able to buy it legally is a huge breakthrough,” he told The Associated Press. “Uruguay is at the forefront of the world on this.”

Some customers declined to comment saying they didn’t want their families or employers to know they were buying marijuana.

Authorities say nearly 5,000 people have registered as consumers allowing them to buy up to 40 grams per month using fingerprint recognition. About two-thirds of them live in Montevideo.

90 cents of each $1.30 gram goes to the two businesses chosen to cultivate marijuana.

The rest is split between the pharmacies and the government, which will use its share to fund prevention programs. The marijuana comes in packages emblazoned with a seal of authenticity and warnings about the drug’s effects.

People line up outside a pharmacy selling legal marijuana in downtown Montevideo, Uruguay, Wednesday, July 19, 2017. (AP Photo/Matilde Campodonico)

Uruguay became the first country to regulate a national marijuana marketplace in an effort to fight rising homicide and crime rates associated with drug trafficking. The law also lets licensed individuals grow marijuana plants and form clubs.

The country’s marijuana plan was widely applauded globally and seen as going beyond marijuana legislation in the U.S. states of Colorado and Washington, but polls showed that most Uruguayans opposed it.


Most of the country’s estimated 1,200 pharmacies also decided not to register to sell, stoking a debate over how the drug should be distributed. Experts attributed delays in the implementation of the pioneering plan to the fact that no other country had attempted such an ambitious endeavor.

“There was a lot of hard work to finally come to this day,” drug czar Diego Olivera said. “It is a challenging and complex project, and today we have taken a step forward.”

A number of prominent legalization advocates marked the day with tweeted congratulatory notes:

While a few others, including author Radley Balko, called out the New York Times for deploying outdated verbiage and assumptions in its headline:

Leafly Staff contributed to this report. 

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  • weekends

    We’ll, here’s another situation where we rank behind a third world country. I’m so proud.

    • Container of Multitudes

      You want to feel really proud just consider how we still use the damned imperial system of measurements instead of the metric system… The metric system makes enough sense that you can calculate things using mental math while the imperial system is just plain horrible. And only three countries use it; Myanmar, Liberia, and the US… Not exactly countries we want to be lumped in with.

    • Kenny Hotz

      Your more than welcome to leave. The good by far outweighs the bad and people are in lines by the hundreds of thousands to get here legally, even more if you count illegally. So step aside and leave so someone else who will be proud of the country can come in.

      • weekends

        What? If I don’t like something just leave? Who died and made YOU everyone’s favorite azzwhole?

        • Kenny Hotz

          Yes just leave! You dont like your car, you get rid of it. Dont like your job, you look for another. Dont like your country, go find another. Sitting and crying like a SJW makes you less of a man!

      • Legalize420

        And those people are now being forced out and once here they now see how bad if a choice they made. If you are in ANY way proud of being an American Citizen during the here and now… You gotta be blind or not personally but dictionary term ignorant of what is going on here.
        We are NOT free REGARDLESS of what you read or hear or want to think. Back in the 90s we really started having our freedoms get axed. And just about 70% + of total people AGREE as they go by what they hear and read and not look into or below the surface of what misinformation they are being fed. It is VERY sad. People have sat around and accepted the status quo, refused to do anything including not simply buying gas for 1 fucking day when prices we’re hitting $4+/gal!! People supported constant invasion of privacy because of Bush planning 9/11 which is partly why he sat there at the daycare with 0 expression. Why the video from the gas station by the Pentagon or what not where the plane made a “hole”(missle shot……) And people don’t push back!?! We loose at least 20+ rights a year and small things like for example not having the freedom to do what u want in your own home as now even in your own home just because someone dislikes your way of life you can be arrested for what u are “seen” doing in what’s supposed to be privacy in your own home. You cannot plant bamboo to cover windows instead of metal bars.

        All this government does is continue padding employees and screwibg the rest of us as for 80% of things a government official or member is NOT responsible for their actions and almost NEVER are they held accountable. WE NEED CHANGE AND WE NEED IT NOW. Sessions needs to be done away with and removed from existence. The gov is higher than Any of us as they can, m..

        • Kenny Hotz

          Yeah, if only we could be so free to spend more than all other presidents combined in an 8 year term. You drink a lot of koolaid and are pretty drunk on it. I am a libertarian and believe the government needs to get out of the way. You speak of conspiracy theories rather than facts. To say we arent 100% free is correct, but we are still the freest nation on the planet. The federal govt needs to lose power. The 10th amendment rules in my view. I am proud of 50% of my country. The LGBTQ, SJW, BLM fucks bog down the system with crap and try to make everyone conform to them, that equals less personal freedom so its not only government but the left in general ruining the lives of ordinary people on a daily basis. And gas is 2 bucks or less here… It was suppose to be like 20 bucks from what global alarmist said, again taking away my freedom to drive what i want to drive. So i am all for more freedom, just get rid of the cancer on the left and on the right.

  • Doyle Cumbo

    That is so awesome, wished we could be united in the United States of America

    • Kenny Hotz

      Read the 10th amendment. We were never meant to be the exact same in every state. You can be a citizen and move to a state that shares your values. We are united as a country. 45% of us pay taxes to distribute to the other 55%. United!

    • Travis C

      Do you think they released a weak strain so they could make the program unpopular then shut it down?

  • Jim

    WOW,……2% THC!!………Customers would die of smoke inhalation before catching a buzz from that stuff! 🙂

    • Alice Nice

      No wonder it’s only 1.30 a gram

      • Scott Bridges

        Wondered why so cheap, dirt pot

    • Rob Stevens

      must be at least 20% thc with at least 22% cannabinoids – that’s the recreational therpeutic dose, for a 65 year old even 1 or 2 inhalations, so there is no need to use to much of it.

      • Sally Montoya

        I totally agree. Point well taken! It’s true. You couldn’t have said it any better!

        • Kenny Hotz

          Sure he could have. I could have said it from a view besides his own. There is no prescription or right dose for anyone. It is trial and error. What is great for you may not be great for me or the next person. To insist what is right for him at 20% THC may be a severe panic attack for another and this is why you do not win the minds and hearts of everyone where it is not legal.

          • Rob Stevens

            Panic attacks are mostly attributable to poor adrenal function which may portend severe thyorid troubles. We’re being bombarded with microwave radiation from phones, towers and base stations which are all affecting our thyroid and then adrenals. If your health bad, cannabis is just an “indicator” light on your human dashboard.

          • Rob Stevens

            if adrenals are left unchecked, then the thyroid may malfunction. Pollution and radiation is killing us, not Cannabis Sativa…

          • Rob Stevens

            in other words, Cannabis will alert you to whatever is really causing your panic attacks and it’s very useful in that respect too…

        • Rob Stevens

          thank you Sally, be great to share some herb with you on a moon lit night

        • Doyle Cumbo


    • lovingc

      Both strains are heavy on the CBD and low on THC. I guess they think they are doing some thing good.

      • Container of Multitudes

        It’s not that bad of an idea as the actual benefits are in the CBD and THC really juts serves to give you a head high.
        If they did this in the states we could get more states on board because it would make it more about pain relief and relaxation than getting absurdly baked. Some of the 25%+ THC strains get people absurdly baked, novice smokers can’t even hang.

        • lovingc

          THC in concert with CBD is essential in some cases. But there is nothing wrong with high THC strains. They have their place in treatments you can’t stand off a mile and decide this is better than that. Every individuals system is different and has different needs.

          • Kenny Hotz

            And there is nothing wrong with high CBD strains.

      • Kenny Hotz

        Not a damn thing wrong with low THC. Just got back from Denver and I suffer from PTSd and a debilitating Panic/anxiety disorder. THC makes me paranoid and give me a lot of anxiety. Found the strains Harlequin(S) and Remedy(I) which both are about .5% THC and 8-12 CBD. I smoked when I was younger and was paranoid a lot when I smoked, I now know why after trying some 4-6% 1:1 strains before finding what I call the good stuff. I have nothing against you getting stoned out of your mind, but they are doing something good.

      • Lastrealindian

        There are so many parents looking for the low THC and high CBD meds only. I believe they think the meds with thc will just stone their children and not actually do any “real” help. Don’t quite understand why they worry so much if this type of med was available for “my” child, I would go anywhere, do almost anything to attain this med. All the actual “stoners”, like myself, want high THC levels in various strains grown just for that reason alone. People like myself, a 64 year old physically disabled oil field heavy equipment operator are using cannabis for “pain-control”. Opioids suck!!! I have one simple question for everyone of like mind about cannabis…does the “Pharma” actually “remove” all your pain because all the damn doctors KEEP writing opioid prescriptions. I am a true “Conspiracy-theorist” in regards to the major big pharma companies fighting us to stop us from going back to simpler meds which are available all over the world. They jack with our meds, food and crops, and they decide “their” plan of attack on us, the Medical Marijuana Patients. AND, the fing FDA also has some actual control over these fing jets spraying all those blends of various “EXPERIMENTAL” heavy-metals and other crop-destroying, food destroying and life killing chemicals “ALL OVER THE EARTH”!!! Check out a site…Bye Bye Blue Skies and the “Geoengineering/Chemtrails” pages throughout the internet.

        • lovingc

          You had me up until you went completely paranoid and started blathering some half assed conspiracy theory.

          • Lastrealindian

            NOT HALF-ASSED! FOR SURE THIS IS REAL… Look up “Bye Bye Blue Sky” and “geoengineering”/chemtrails….fucker!

          • Lastrealindian

            So, you like to talk about “climate change” as if man kind could do something to stop…what? Well, mankind can actually do something about this so-called “climate change” which has zero to do with anyone anyway. Man can change our climate by inserting chemicals into our medium of oxygen and other basic chemicals, to make it rain heavy, snow, not rain, not snow. We CAN bring on floods of historic proportions. Believe or your site is not worth a look again. Do your own research instead of using other people’s words. You would be better served by education yourself….

  • Kevin Williams

    Good to see. Low THC levels but it’s a great start in the right direction. Hopefully the US will get it together.

    • Scott Bridges

      It is a start for them, predict the murder rate will go down.

  • Rob Stevens

    must be at least 20% thc with at least 22% cannabinoids – that’s the suggested recreational therpeutic dose, for a 65 year old even 1 or 2 inhalations, so there is no need to use too much of it.

    • Kenny Hotz

      Copy, paste Eh? that 20% made you a bit lazy.

      • Rob Stevens

        Panic attacks are mostly attributable to poor adrenal function which may portend severe thyorid troubles. We’re being bombarded with microwave radiation from phones, towers and base stations which are all affecting our thyroid and then adrenals. If your health bad, cannabis is just a light on your human dashboard.

  • Rob Stevens

    Do these anti-cannabis people think we want to smoke this like their tobacco products? so you have the medicinal and recreational on one side versus the corporatists and big pharma??

  • Rob Stevens

    just think how much money we’ll save on water wasted in public urinals when alcohol is finally deleted

    • _Six30_

      He’s got a point here…

  • Calvin Dexter

    i like all the comments about the 2% hemp weed, they need to import some seeds with better genetics

    • Container of Multitudes

      It’s obviously intentional, they would if they wanted to

    • Federico Villagómez

      Sorry but I’ve tried harlequin and cannatonic strains and they can get you stoned. A 2% THC is a good percentage.

  • nomequito

    The drug addicts must be celebrating

    • Container of Multitudes

      Why would that be? They don’t sell drugs at these places, and drug addicts are after actual drugs…

  • Adam

    I wonder what these plants look like lol 5incher under a incandescent light bulb

  • Raul Tsi

    nah, you’d just be able to smoke a whole joint without your face melting off and your brain oozing out your ear canals. You know, kind of like the ’70s all over again. As long as it is clean, toxin-free. Hell, I’d probably take up smoking again if I could get 2% weed that wasn’t some crap that was strewn on the dog-shit covered ground, smushed in a filthy trash compactor, shipped in a funky, smelly, leaky lithuanian freighter, hidden in a cockroach infested warehouse for 3 months before it could be moved out disgusting smelling schwag.

  • Joe Tittiger


    “Legalization” is scam and a half and the only way that they get away with it is because we are so dumbed down from attending the government schools. What we put into our bodies is an inalienable right, much like let’s say choosing to have children is a right.

    Would you be celebrating, if “parenthood” and having children were “legalized” with all sorts of fee’s, taxes, and hoops to jump through to stay of jail?

    Well what you put into you body is just as much a right as choosing to have children. You don’t pay a tax, and get a license to have children because it is a right. The same applies to what you decide to put into your body.

    The state is acting criminally. It is acting as a slave owner would. It acts as if it owns your body….. Instead of the psychopaths in government talking about what they will “allow” their cattle to do, we should be talking about locking them up in prison for violating our rights with these so called laws. They are the criminals. Not us….

  • Peter Greenall

    Can someone show me in the report where it says 181.8 million users?

  • John Sabourin

    I would get as much as my prescription would allow. The higher CBD means i can do it anytime to get relief .

  • Truepatriot_56

    I wouldn’t smoke that garbage if it was free. Can you say, DIRTWEED? What a friggin joke. Leave it to a government body to screw up something so simple.

  • Carlos

    I live in Uruguay, I have already bought this legal weed, which produces no effect whatsoever. It is so silly and ridiculous to sell something like this…Even the extended “paraguayan pressed” weed (made of leaves , twigs ecc) has more THC than this rubibsh. It should contain at least 15 % of THC to compite with the ilegal marijuana, not to mention that lot of people has become grower, obtaining home grown pot of higher THC (20 to 30 % depending on the seed…).

    • Travis C

      Did they release a weak strain so that the program would be unpopular and shut down quickly?

      • Carlos

        I guess in the end that may be one of the real reasons, as the current President in charge, Vázquez, an oncologist, is against smoking any kind of substance (tobacco, marihuana, etc…), but also and more important is a political rival of former president Mujica who had passed the law of legalization (both belong to the same left oriented coalition party, Mujica ex guerrilla, Vázquez a socialist). . He has delayed the process all that he could, and now due to the threat of the private banks of closing all accounts of business that deal with marihuana, the process is entering in stand by…. Sad but true, this is just a small country, where all the banks (including the official public Banco de la República) depend on the dollars transfers that come from US banks…so, as long as the US Senate does not pass a law that allows federal banks to deal with accounts related to marihuana (not only in an state level as happens in Colorado etc), the process is going down also in Uruguay…..The only real benefit that I see with this legalization law is that now as a lot of people grow its own plants, there is plenty of high quality grass in the market (illegal yes, but not anymore fruit of smuggling low quality pressed pot from Paraguay…). It may cost more (about 70 dollars for 25 grams) but you obtain a real quality grass that grants you a real effect. Instead, the “official” product sold in the pharmacies, is a joke really….Also we have to consider that Uruguay has a long tradition of Statism or social democratic policies, as the State controls almost everything (such as in socialist countries but without the totalitarian tendencies); water, electricity, oil, insurances, education, health, ecc… the solution of a marihuana controled by the State sounds familiar here….only if they had produced some decent stuff….People has not complained too much about the lack of quality, maybe because is still dazzled by the novelty of the process….but if such process continue, it would be mandatory to offer also some strains of more concentrated THC, otherwise this turns into a mockery of legalization where the only benefits go to those who have the space to grow their own home plants….

  • Rob Stevens

    Panic attacks are mostly attributable to poor adrenal function which may portend severe thyorid troubles. We’re being bombarded with microwave radiation from phones, towers and base stations which are all affecting our thyroid and then adrenals. If your health bad, cannabis will serve as an “indicator” light on your human dashboard.

  • Wait Here

    Yeah I’m in Uruguay at the moment.. bought both Alpha 1 anf Beta 1.
    It’s a fucking joke. Total fucking scam. 2% THC. Didn’t get me high.. I just finished smoking these two bags just for the fuck of it.
    To score weed on the street is not easy at all, since most locals are pussies as fuck. They don’t smoke and hardly drink.

    I’m telling you.. it’s all just a government scam. They probably collect the hash from the flowers before they pack it in Alpha 1 and Beta 1 bags. Coz that weed is not sticky at all.

    Also I don’t really want to look for that Brazilian swag off the streets either, since I’m already used to high quality canabis. Plus as I said the locals are fucking buzz killers by default. The most boring nation I ever visited.

    They have the best fucking steaks in the world here.. tho. But in regard to weed or anything else.. it’s just not the place.

    Plus the government here is socialist as fuck + retarded. So everything they do kills all the business here. Literally people are broke here. What a dumb fucking government. So many opportunities wasted.