Legal Cannabis is Coming to Uruguay and Canada
Support for cannabis reform is sweeping across the globe. If you think that cannabis legalization is something that is only occurring in the United States, you would be wrong.
A number of countries are reforming their cannabis laws, with most of them exploring medical cannabis reform.
However, a growing number of countries are also exploring full legalization, with one country already taking the leap (partially) and another on the way.
Uruguay announced in 2013 that it was legalizing cannabis, but it wasn't until recently that an expected launch date was set (July 2017) for sales.
Canada is also in the process of legalizing cannabis for adult use, with a recent announcement of a launch date on or before July 1, 2018.
What will legalization look like in Uruguay?
Uruguay has spent the better part of four years trying to figure out exactly what its legalization model will look like.
As it stands right now, residents of Uruguay who are 18 or older are allowed to cultivate cannabis at home, or can join a cultivation club.
However, if an adult resident of Uruguay wants to purchase cannabis, they have no way of doing so legally. That is expected to change this summer when Uruguay pharmacies start selling cannabis.
The way it will work in Uruguay is residents 18 and older can register with a pharmacy, and then purchase cannabis from the pharmacy with a limit of 40 grams at a time.
Grams of cannabis in Uruguay are expected to sell for $1.30. Unfortunately, non-residents will not be able to make legal purchases, so keep that in mind before you start planning your vacation.
What will legalization look like in Canada?
Canada's model will be much different compared to Uruguay's model. The legal age in Canada is expected to be 18, however, provinces can set a higher limit if they choose to, and the national legal age could change before implementation.
Households with someone 18 years or older will be able to cultivate up to 4 plants. Cannabis licenses will be issued for producers and retailers, and the sales model will resemble stores in American states, albeit for consumers that are a bit younger in some cases.
Unlike Uruguay, Canada plans to sell cannabis to anyone of legal age, even non-residents. The expected launch date for sales was July 1, 2018, but some elected officials have pushed back since it will be Canada Day, and the expected launch date is now 'on or before July 1, 2018.'
The price for cannabis in Canada is to be determined, as are a lot of the rules and regulations for the industry.
Canada Prime Minister Justin Trudeau campaigned in 2015 on a pro-legalization platform, and will finally make good on that promise next year.
How does Canada and Uruguay's legalization model compare to American legalization?
Legalization in America is strikingly different than it will be in Canada and Uruguay in that the other countries are legalizing at a national level, versus the state-by-state legalization model that is occurring in the United States.
As a result, issues over federalism and federal enforcement will not be an issue in Canada and Uruguay like they are in the United States.
The legal age for cannabis is obviously higher in the United States, and not all states allow cultivation (here is looking at you Washington!).
If someone compares Canada and Uruguay to particular states, such as Oregon and Colorado, the legalization model is not as strong.
But when you consider the fact that Uruguay and Canada are legalizing at the national level, their legalization model is clearly better than the federal prohibition policy of the United States.
What impact will legalization in Canada and Uruguay have on the rest of the world?
Legalization in Uruguay is going to have a profound impact on South America. Neighboring countries are already reforming laws to allow medical cannabis, and I'd imagine full legalization will soon follow.
It all depends on how the roll-out in Uruguay goes. If it is successful, it could lead to full legalization sweeping across the entire continent fairly quickly. A flop would all but ensure that other countries keep their prohibition policies.
Legalization in Canada is likely to have a much larger impact on the global community, if for any reason because it borders the United States.
With America's neighbor to the North rolling out legal cannabis sales, and experiencing the undeniable benefits that go with it, how long will it take for the United States to follow?
Canada is already exporting cannabis to other countries, and full legalization in Canada will continue to build its industry. A future global cannabis industry largely controlled by Canadian cannabis companies is not a far-fetched thing. Will the United States, and other countries, try to beat Canada to the punch? Only time will tell.
If both countries are able to implement legal cannabis sales without major issues, it will send a message to the rest of the world that the sky will remain intact if they choose to follow suit.
Prohibition has failed, and legalization and regulation is the only way to ensure that the failed policies of the past no longer have to be endured by citizens of countries that get on the right side of history.
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Should the United States legalize cannabis at the national level like Canada and Uruguay?