A few decades ago Uruguay was known for their harsh military dictatorship. Today they have the reputation as a leading nation in Latin America for having liberal social policies.
In 2013, President Mujica legalized the use of marijuana in Uruguay, for both recreational and medical use. Entrepreneurs and businessmen from across the globe are now flocking to the South American country seeking cannabis-based business opportunities.
Hundreds of private and public companies, like Monsanto, began holdings preliminary discussions with government officials in Uruguay to understand more about cannabis related business regulations and future outlook for the industry. Uruguay hopes to establish an epicenter for South American medical and non-medical cannabis related businesses.
Due to fact that this a brand new industry, the opportunities are plentiful. A few include hemp/cannabis production, distribution outlets, medical research, retail stores or growing equipment and technology.
The law permits an individual person to cultivate up to 480 grams per year but they cannot sell or distribute. Officials estimate by the end of 2014 pharmacists should have enough supply to meet demand from customers seeking medical marijuana. Consumers will be able to purchase marijuana from licensed drugstores for close to $1 per gram. The government plans to issue six licenses for private growers to produce and distribute cannabis.
Executives from medical marijuana companies are worried about how Uruguay’s government structures the legalized marijuana industry, which combines recreational and medicinal cannabis as one category. In order for this to be successful, the entire process from production to distribution to consumption must be standardized and audited constantly. Otherwise companies and researchers fear inconsistency could damage credibility.
President Mujica envisions a safe and successful business climate eliminating drug dealers and corruption from legitimate marijuana business. Transparency must be ensured for every aspect of the industry. Government officials must design it to enforce compliance, crackdown on illegal activity and incentivize buying from state-owned businesses.
In November 2014, Uruguay’s left-wing Tabaré Vazquez won the presidential vote and eliminated the threat of ruining all progress that has been made behind Mujica and charge to legalize marijuana.
President elect Vasquez is a former doctor who has expressed concerns about the new marijuana law, however he is fully committed to enforcing the legalization of marijuana and has no plans of repealing it.
“There will be a strict and very close evaluation about the impact that this law has on society. We are going to analyze it very carefully. And if at any moment we see that it does not work, we will not hesitate for a moment in making the necessary corrections.” he said in an interview with El Pias after being elected.
Uruguay has made huge strides and proves that it doesn’t matter what political party, country or culture you favor; the grassroots movement is spreading across the globe!