Canadian medical-marijuana producer Tilray and the founder of a German cannabis products retailer are among 11 investors bidding for a foothold in a formerly illegal industry in Uruguay: marijuana farms.
Once the government issues the licenses, recreational pot could reach pharmacies in three to four months, said Alfredo Dupetit, a partner in Montevideo, Uruguay-based bidder Lucus SRL. Pharmacies will then be able to sell as much as 40 grams (0.1 pound) of pot a month, enough for about 60 joints, to registered users, the government has said.
After serving as the front line in a U.S.-led effort to squash drug production and consumption, Latin American and Caribbean nations have begun opening the door to legal marijuana. Jamaica’s Senate passed legislation this month — on late singer Bob Marley’s birthday — allowing some pot for personal use and regulating medical marijuana, while Chile has authorized the planting of marijuana for medicinal uses.
“By being first, Uruguay has guaranteed that it will have a major role” in the changing debate over drug policy, said John Walsh, who coordinates drug policy at the Washington Office on Latin America.
Uruguay plans to issue as many as five growing licenses as it seeks to implement a law that in December 2013 made it the first country to regulate cannabis for recreational, medical and industrial uses, such as textiles and oils. Uruguay’s cannabis regulatory agency, IRCCA, will probably issue the licenses within 20 days, Julio Calzada, head of the National Drugs Secretariat, told reporters Feb. 9.
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