Uruguay has granted two companies licenses to grow marijuana for commercial distribution, with the plant set to be sold in pharmacies as from mid-2016.
“We received 21 proposals… only two licenses were awarded for production and distribution.” Juan Andrés Roballo President of Uruguay’s National Drugs board told the BBC.
Until recently it was only cannabis club members and domestic-scale growers who were able to benefit from marijuana consumption, with a total of around 3,000 legal consumers across Uruguay, La Prensa reports.
Symbiosys and Iccorp, the two firms awarded the much sought after licenses, can legally produce up to two tons of marijuana per year.
Under a new Uruguayan law, families can now register to purchase up to 40 grams of marijuana per month from pharmacies across the country, retailing at just over $1 per gram.
Only Uruguayan citizens aged 18 or over will be able to purchase the drug over the counter.
The measure, a brainchild of former President Jose Mujica who legalized marijuana usage in 2013, has had a mixed reaction. Yet by increasing awareness and with marijuana consumption legal in Uruguay since 1998, it certainly is an alternative response to the U.S. led war on drugs across the continent.
“A beneficial effect”
“If Uruguay can remove the profit motive from the sale of cannabis and prevent the glorification of it through modern marketing techniques, it may have an overall beneficial effect in that the prevalence of use may not increase and could possibly decrease,” Thomas Babor, a drugs researcher from the University of Connecticut school of medicine told Bloomberg.