This past week has seen members of the cannabis community in the most enormous numbers take to the streets of Uruguay, forming enormous queues outside the country’s pharmacies. Which isn’t difficult to understand, given the way in which the south American nation has at long last rolled out its uniquely relaxed policy on the sale and use of recreational cannabis.
It was back in 2013 that Uruguay voted to implement measures that would see every single part of the cannabis market legalised – from cultivation to final purchase and consumption. The latest part of the new legislation to be implemented on Wednesday last week is the legal right of pharmacies across the country to begin selling cannabis publicly.
But it’s not just the availability of cannabis in Uruguay that’s attracting stoners from all over the place. If completely legal cannabis on its own isn’t a big enough selling point, how about average selling prices of $1.30 per gram?
Admittedly, there isn’t what you’d call a great deal of variety and nor is the potency of the available strains anywhere near what you might expect from typical American or European cannabis. In fact, there are only currently two different strains available for purchase - an indica called Alpha I with 2% THC and 7% CBD and a sativa called Beta I with 2% THC and 6% CBD.
More strains are expected to be added to the legal sales contingency going forwards, but it’s relatively slim pickings for the time being. Then again, the fact that citizens of Uruguay are permitted to grow their own cannabis with pretty much zero restrictions to worry about more than makes up for this slight downside.
Mirroring the sentiments of many other nations – albeit at a far more advanced level – Uruguay made the decision to legalise cannabis as a means by which to focus its resources on more problematic issues. Drug trafficking and distribution remains a problem across the region in general – substances like cocaine and heroin having been deemed far bigger priorities than cannabis. The simple fact of the matter is that cannabis has been relatively easy to get hold of across Uruguay for decades, though has been restricted to black market suppliers only. By legalising cannabis, the government has effectively wiped the black market off the map once and for all, allowing massive financial and police resources alike to be diverted to more pressing issues.
Rather than simply becoming a haven for cannabis users and pot tourists, Uruguay hopes to set a positive example for the rest of the world to follow. Particularly countries like the United Kingdom, which continue to enforce completely outdated and nonsensical laws applicable to medical and recreational cannabis alike. To such an extent that critics continue to imply that to legalise even medical cannabis is to set entirely the wrong example as to the ‘safety’ of this ‘harmful and deadly’ substance.
If there was even a shred of truth in this, the entire country of Uruguay would have been reduced to ashes long ago. Instead, they’re teaching the rest of the world a lesson as to just how powerful proactive pot policy can and should be.