By Roland Sebestyén
According to a new proposal, foreign citizens will be able to buy cannabis in Uruguay soon. The plan is reportedly not a scheme to promote cannabis use but a strategy to help tackle the enduring black market.
Bloomberg reports that a policymaker in the country could submit a proposal this year that would eventually boost (cannabis) tourism in the country.
As Uruguay was the first to legalise cannabis use, it has become a popular destination for cannabis users from all around the globe. However, because of current legislation prohibiting visitors from purchasing legal cannabis, foreigners in Uruguay are turning to the black market.
The administration’s proposed plans are designed to end the situation and create a safe, regulated market.
It won’t be happening this year, though. The summer season is about to begin in the southern hemisphere, but the proposal is not quite ready yet.
Daniel Radio, secretary-general of the National Drugs Board, said: “It seems to me that if we come up with a good proposal, Uruguay could open its regulated pot market to tourists.
“For the upcoming tourism season, it’s highly unlikely, but I wouldn’t rule it out.”
As Bloomberg reports, registered adult residents (even foreign residents with the necessary permit) are able to grow cannabis, join a cannabis club and buy up to 40 grams of cannabis a month at any authorised pharmacies.
Prior to the legalisation of Cannabis in Uruguay, consumption of the drug was never officially outlawed. Cultivation and supply of the plant, however, was forbidden – a contradiction that allowed the illegal cannabis market to thrive.
But in 2011, a single arrest appeared to spark an appetite for legislation reform across the country.
In July 2011, 66-year-old Author Alicia Castilla was greeted at her home by 14 armed police officers, and placed under custody for the cultivation of cannabis. Castilla insisted that her plants were for personal use, not for supply. Facing two to 10 years in prison, Castilla began making headlines across Uruguay as citizens protested her incarceration.
Castilla soon became known as the ‘Reefer Grandmother’, and legislators even started to bring draft cannabis legislation for her to review in prison.
The cultivation of cannabis was finally legalised in 2014. In July 2017, Uruguay became the first country in the world to introduce legal cannabis sales across the whole territory.