Uruguay preparing to sell legal marijuana for $1 a gram in 2014
The country is hoping to act as a potential test case for an idea slowly gaining steam across Latin America — that the legalization and regulation of some drugs could sap the cartel violence devastating much of the region.
“The illegal market is very risky and offers poor quality,” National Drug Board chief Jose Calzada was quoted as saying in Sunday’s El Pais newspaper.
The state “will provide a safe place to buy, a good quality product and, moreover, will sell at a standard price.”
The government proposes to sell marijuana for $1 a gram, slightly below the current market rate that runs about 30 pesos ($1.40) a gram.
By putting the government in charge of the marijuana industry, which is estimated to be worth $30 million to $40 million a year, the plan aims to curtail illegal trafficking and the violence that comes with it.
The proposed law would allow people to cultivate up to six cannabis plants for their own use, belong to a membership club that could grow up to 99 plants, or buy the drug at pharmacies, with a limit of 40 grams a month per person.
In August, the bill, which is backed by President Jose Mujica’s leftist government, was passed by the lower house of Uruguay’s legislature.
It now awaits action by the Senate.