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. Continue reading