Montevideo (AFP) – Uruguay has set the price for pot at less than a dollar a gram, as it lays out rules for the government-regulated sale of marijuana in a daring, closely watched social experiment.
The small South American country is following up on its ground-breaking decision in December to legalize the production and sale of marijuana under government control, an international first amid growing sentiment that the war on drugs has failed.
On Friday, the government announced rules for the new market, setting limits on amounts individuals can buy, the potency of the drug and the price.
It also put in place a process for issuing licenses to grow and distribute marijuana.
A decree is to be signed Monday and go into effect the following day.
– Pot by December –
Legal marijuana will not actually be available until the end of the year, however, when pharmacies begin selling it under government supervision.
Under the law, consumers will be able to grow their own or buy through consumers’ clubs.
Buyers must be 18 or older, residents of Uruguay, and must register with authorities.
The price for a gram of marijuana has been set at 20 to 22 pesos (the equivalent of $0.90).
Individuals will be allowed to buy no more than 40 grams a month.
The price reflects the government’s estimate of costs plus a profit for producers and pharmacies, officials say.
National Drug Board chief Julio Calzada estimates 18 to 22 tons of marijuana are consumed a year in Uruguay, a country of 3.3 million people.
“Based on this, we need a maximum of 10 hectares (25 acres)” of crops to meet demand, he added.
The marijuana will have a 15 percent concentration of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) — the plant’s main psychoactive ingredient — and come in five varieties.
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