Uruguay Eyes Canadian Marijuana
By Esther Tanquintic-Misa | March 21, 2014 12:42 PM EST
On April 1, Uruguay's legalisation of marijuana, the very first among the world, takes effect. To prepare for the influx of demand, the small South American nation has taken its sights on Canada to fill in the gaps.
REUTERS/David Snyder/Handout v
An unidentified park ranger shows a marijuana leaf while he helps other law enforcement agencies eradicate a marijuana growing operation discovered in Cascade National Park in Diablo, Washington, in this August 14, 2008 handout photo. Even as states legalize marijuana, some U.S. officials are demanding tougher sentences for illegal pot growers if they also invade public lands, kill native vegetation and wildlife, and spread toxic pesticides. REUTERS/David Snyder/Handout via Reuters
Ratified in December 2013, Uruguay legalised the growing and selling of marijuana as a source of revenue. Uruguay residents may grow six marijuana plants in their homes per year, or as much as 480 grams (about 17 ounces). Smoking clubs with 15 to 45 members can grow up to 99 plants per year.
However, cultivation processes and operations take time way beyond the four months since the bill was thumbed up by the Uruguay Senate.
"To start with, we will have to buy cannabis," GlobalPost quoted Lucia Topolansky, a Ururgayan senator and wife of President Jose Mujica. "I think that we're going to buy it from Canada, because that's where the best quality is."
But while Canada may welcome the business potential, experts believed the country's cannabis growers won't be able to accommodate the requests. Canada's marijuana laws happen to also undergo reform under the Medical Marijuana Purposes Regulations (MMPR).
"There won't be any export to Uruguay, or anyone else, any time soon," Marc Wayne, president of Toronto-based Bedrocan Canada Inc., one of the country's biggest suppliers, said.
Canada's latest MMPR happen to limit cannabis growing and production to only 10 companies. Although 400 applications have been lodged to participate in the program, CBC said financial capability is a strong requirement which most of the applicants don't possess.
But even as Canada wants to import the green weed to Uruguay or any other nation, it would first need to go to the United Nations. Shipping marijuana is illegal under different United Nations conventions on transporting narcotics, according to two shipping lawyers that GlobalPost contacted.
Moreover, Canadian cannabis growers will have to think long and hard about the economics of selling their wares in Uruguay where the green weed is sold at a measly $1 per gram.
Canadian medical marijuana companies plan to retail it at $4 to $12 per gram.
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