California could learn a thing or two from those who paved the way for cannabis legalization. For example, Uruguay was the first country to fully legalize marijuana, and the South American country has learned much as a result of trial-by-error. Cannabis was legalized there five years ago, but it wasn’t until last year that legal sales began. Since then, Uruguay has experienced a number of supply problems. Residents report having to travel long distances to licensed pharmacies, and sometimes once they arrive, the supply is dry.
According to a report from High Times, the issues are two-fold. First an excess in government oversight is creating supply chain issues. Only registered pharmacies can sell cannabis, and there have only been 14 licenses issued out of the 1,200 pharmacies in Uruguay. The government is also in charge of cultivation of marijuana, but only two cultivators have received licenses. Much like in California, when too many restrictions come between buyers and their marijuana, many consumers will choose black market options, even though there are legal options.
Second, the head of the Uruguay National Drug Council said there is an issue of farming capacity. Farming cannabis on such a large scale was not common, and there certainly was not a guidebook available. This led to a learning curve for cultivators to catch up on technology and processing on a mass scale. The two cultivators have just recently reached the allowed capacity of 4 metric tons per year.Meanwhile, demand for cannabis reaches an estimated 25 tons of marijuana in Uruguay annually. Government officials have discussed increasing the amount of cultivators. They are going to have to if they plan to encourage people to stick with legal purchasing options and keep the black market at bay. In fact, the black market was a huge motivator in legalizing cannabis in the first place. Violence related to gangs involved in drug trafficking contributed to a significant percentage of the murders in the country, but because the black market has been able to keep such a stronghold, the violence has only increased.
Advocates still attest that the plan could work; it just takes time. California has also had its fair share of experience with the cannabis black market, though top concerns generally revolve around damage unlicensed growers are causing to the environment and public lands, making deliveries to states where marijuana is illegal, and creating unfair competition for marijuana businesses who are playing by the rules.
Our Orange County cannabis lawyers know plenty of challenges in California are certainly different. Uruguay, for example, is not still battling their federal government on the basic issue of marijuana’s safety, while the U.S. Controlled Substances Act still classifies cannabis as a Schedule I narcotic. In many ways, however, despite this, marijuana is more accessible in California, particularly if you live in a city that permits sales. Our state has managed to thrive and build a budding marketplace in spite of challenges we have faced. This level of success doesn’t come easily. It takes hard work, dedication, and a foundational understanding of creating a solid business plan amidst cannabis regulations and laws. Our attorneys can help you set that foundation with consultations and business plans and guide you toward a thriving future.
The Los Angeles CANNABIS LAW Group represents growers, dispensaries, collectives, patients, defendants, workers and those facing criminal marijuana charges. Call us at 714-937-2050.
Uruguay Struggling to Meet Demand for Legal Marijuana, June 13, 2018, By Leonardo Haberkorn, Associated Press
More Blog Entries:
Uruguay Lifts Prohibition of Marijuana – Joins Colorado and Washington State, Dec. 25, 2013, Orange County Marijuana Attorney Blog