Uruguay seeks to strengthen cannabis industry and allow tourists to buy pot of marijuana | To travel

The first country in the world to legalize most uses of marijuana seeks to hijack the business of illicit sellers and bolster its cannabis industry by allowing foreign visitors to buy weed.

The administration of Uruguayan President Luis Lacalle Pou could release its plan as early as this year with the aim of building political consensus and support, said Daniel Radio, secretary general of the National Drugs Office. The aim is not to promote Uruguay as a destination for cannabis tourism, but rather to steer tourists away from the black market to the regulated market, according to Deputy Tourism Minister Remo Monzeglio.

Giving tourists access to legal cannabis would dramatically increase the industry’s potential customer base in the country of 3.5 million people. Normally, millions of Argentines and Brazilians flock to the country’s beaches during the summer in the southern hemisphere, which runs from December to February. But the pandemic has eroded those numbers as the nation severely restricted overseas visits. Uruguay plans to reopen its borders to all fully vaccinated foreigners from November 1.

“It seems to me that if we come up with a good proposal,” Uruguay could open its regulated pot market to tourists, the radio said in an interview. “For the next tourist season, it’s highly unlikely, but I wouldn’t rule it out. “

Uruguayan law allows adult citizens and foreign residents who register with a government registry to grow their own pot, join a cannabis club, or purchase 40 grams per month from licensed pharmacies.

In a separate interview, Monzeglio said he proposed charging foreign tourists higher prices, with the proceeds helping fund drug treatment and rehabilitation programs.

A presidential decree would probably be the fastest way to open pharmacies, and potentially cannabis clubs as well, to tourists who register with the database, the radio said. To waive the database requirement, Congress would have to pass a law, he said.

Uruguay was at the forefront of cannabis legalization when lawmakers passed sweeping law in 2013 that its supporters said would defend personal freedom, undermine drug gangs, and generate exports. However, nearly eight years later, the gangs are still in business, annual exports have yet to hit $ 10 million, and competition is mounting as more countries embrace cannabis.

“I think there was over-optimism about the possibilities for growth, as we are not playing alone here,” said Radio, who also heads the cannabis regulatory agency Ircca.

Cannabis exports have more than doubled to almost $ 7.5 million in 2020, but that total is still a far cry from the hundreds of millions of dollars predicted by some industry participants. Colombia is also emerging as a competitor for cannabis investments thanks to favorable rules and some of the best weather conditions in the world.

Even so, Uruguay can rely on new rules to speed up exports, as well as its reputation as a transparent and predictable place to do business, to stay relevant in the cannabis industry, Radio said. Ircca has now approved 56 licenses for activities including medical cannabis cultivation, research and development, and manufacturing of medical and consumer products.

“Some investments appear in manufacturing and value-added processes. This must be our bet, because it is the only way for Uruguay to be competitive, ”the radio said, citing the country’s high labor and energy costs.

WEEK ISSUE

42%: The proportion of young adults (aged 19 to 30) in the United States who used marijuana at least once in the past 12 months in 2020, a record high, according to a report released this month. ci by the National Institute of Drug Abuse’s.

QUOTE OF THE WEEK

“Whenever it comes down to legalization and it gets more attention, you have big, big business – big business – wanting to talk about cannabis. At the right time, I think it’s possible for us to have a partnership for the right reason, ”said Irwin Simon, CEO of Tilray Inc., at the Barclays Global Consumer Staples conference on September 10.

WHAT WOULD YOU LIKE TO KNOW?

Shares of India Globalization Capital surged after the company said its cannabis drug for Alzheimer’s disease was safe and well tolerated in an early stage clinical trial in 12 patients. do not expect a material impact. Zimbabwe has authorized 57 foreign and local entities to cultivate medicinal cannabis, the country’s investment agency said.

EVENTS

MONDAY 9/13

Cannabis Science Conference at the Baltimore Convention Center.

TUESDAY 9/14

Curaleaf Holdings, Columbia Care and other companies present at the Needham 2nd Virtual Cannabis Conference.

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