Uruguay says legal marijuana to be good and cheap

Wed May 7, 2014 10:36am EDT
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By Malena Castaldi

MONTEVIDEO (Reuters) - Uruguayans will be allowed to buy enough marijuana to roll about 20 joints a week at a price well below the black market rate, the government said on Tuesday as it detailed a new law legalizing the cannabis trade.

Congress in December approved a law allowing the cultivation and sale of marijuana, making Uruguay the first country to do so, with the aim of wresting the business from criminals.

Leftist President Jose Mujica signed a decree outlining the fine print of the new policy on Tuesday. It says Uruguayans will be able to buy up to 10 grams of marijuana a week at between $0.85 and $1 dollar a gram, a low price designed to compete with black market cannabis that mostly comes from Paraguay.

Activists who have backed the measure said legalized marijuana would be high-grade and affordable.

"You can't compare a flower that is quality-controlled by the Public Health Ministry ... with Paraguayan (stuff) which is absolutely harmful because it has external substances," said Bruno Calleros of the Cannabis Liberation Movement.

He said legal marijuana would cost roughly 20 percent of the current market price for similar high-quality marijuana.

Each Uruguayan will also be allowed to grow up to six marijuana plants or the equivalent of 480 grams (about 17 ounces) for personal use and form smoking clubs of 15 to 45 members that can grow up to 99 plants per year.

A sleepy agricultural country of 3.3 million people, Uruguay has come under the spotlight for the marijuana law championed by Mujica, a 78-year-old former Marxist guerrilla whose modest lifestyle and philosophical musings have made him a leftist darling abroad.   Continued...

People look at marijuana smoking paraphernalia in a street market in downtown Montevideo March 10, 2014. REUTERS/Andres Stapff