Green, Government - Uruguay Struggles To Grow Enough Pot
Legal marijuana went on sale in Uruguay last year, thanks to a 2013 decriminalization law that regulated weed from plants to the consumer purchase point. Problem is, they can't grow enough of it.
"The demand is greater than our productive capacity," said Diego Olivera, the head of Uruguay's National Drugs Council. "We have to address that challenge."
The South American country was already one of world's biggest consumers of marijuana, and everyone who wanted to toke was toking. Some estimate Uruguay smokes as much as 30 metric tons per year. But the people were buying it from drug gangs, and that means criminal activities and violence. The legalization law that was meant to deflate the gangs isn't working because the legal purchase points, Uruguay's pharmacies, often run out.
"I work, I can't come here every day," complained wine sommelier Laura Andrade. "Today, I'll have to buy from an illegal dealer. I have no choice. This system is crap. It's useless!"
Uruguay allows registered users buy as much as 40 grams of weed per month at participating pharmacies. But the vast majority of Uruguay's 1,200 pharmacies signed up to sell pot because the low profit margin or fear of getting robbed. Only 14 signed up to sell.