Friday, Oct 31, 2014

Uruguay to legalise marijuana sale, but not to be mistaken for a ‘pot-smoker’s paradise: President

Uruguay's President Jose Mujica poses for a photo with his dog, Manuela, at his home on the outskirts of Montevideo, Uruguay. (AP) Uruguay's President Jose Mujica poses for a photo with his dog, Manuela, at his home on the outskirts of Montevideo, Uruguay. (AP)
Associated Press | Montevideo | Posted: May 3, 2014 11:27 am | Updated: May 3, 2014 11:28 am

Uruguay has finally released its rules for the legal marijuana market it is launching this year, detailing how the government plans to get very involved in every aspect of the business. But anyone hoping the South American nation will become a pot-smoker’s paradise should probably head to Colorado instead, President Jose Mujica suggested on Friday.

“It’s a complete fiction what they do in Colorado” in terms of controlling the sale and use of legal marijuana, Mujica said in an Associated Press interview.

Colorado licenses sellers and producers but allows any adult to buy up to 28 grams at a time — and then go down the street and buy 28 grams more. In Uruguay, consumers must be licensed as well, and each purchase will be tracked to ensure they buy no more than 10 grams a week, he said.

Mujica and his ministers plan to sign the regulations on Monday, and they’ll take effect on Tuesday.

In two weeks, the government will take applications from businesses hoping to become one of a handful of growers supplying marijuana to the state. By early December, a network of pharmacies will be ready to supply the weed to registered consumers at less than a dollar a gram, presidential spokesman Diego Canepa said late Friday.

As with tobacco, the pot will come in packages warning of health risks, and smoking will be prohibited everywhere but private homes and open-air locations. As with liquor, motorists will be subject to testing by police to make sure they’re not driving under the influence.

The state will sell five different strains, containing a maximum level of 15 percent THC, the substance that gets consumers high. Each bag will be bar-coded, radio-frequency tagged, and registered in a genetic database that will enable authorities to trace its origin and determine its legality, Canepa said. The rules limit licensed growers to six plants per household — not per person, as some pot enthusiasts had hoped. And while people who buy in pharmacies will be identified by fingerprint readers to preserve their anonymity, every user’s pot consumption will be tracked in a government database.

Mujica predicted that many will call him an elderly reactionary once they see this fine print, but he says his government never intended to create a mecca for marijuana lovers.

“No addiction is good,” he said. “We aren’t going to promote smokefests, bohemianism, all this stuff they try to pass off as innocuous when it isn’t. They’ll label us elderly reactionaries. But this isn’t a policy that seeks to expand marijuana consumption. What it aims to do is keep it all within reason, and not allow it to become an illness.”

With bona fide plants registered at the molecular level, police can test continued…

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