Latin America & Caribbean

Uruguay cannabis growers' clubs: Registration begins

Juan Manuel, owner of the first shop dedicated to cannabis merchandising in Montevideo, rolls a joint on April 24, 2014. Image copyright AFP
Image caption Juan Manuel, owner of the first shop dedicated to cannabis merchandising in Montevideo, rolls a joint

Uruguay has started registering cannabis growers' clubs as part of the government's plan to legalise the drug.

Licensed clubs of up to 45 members will be allowed to grow a maximum of 99 plants each year.

In August, growing up to six plants of cannabis at home became legal.

Uruguay legalised the production and sale of cannabis last December and the government hopes to sell it from pharmacies in the new year.

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption A man waits to register at the post office. The new law allowed citizens and legal residents of Uruguay to register to legally grow marijuana at home, with a limit of six plants per home and 480 grams per year.

Under the legislation, each club member can produce no more than 480g of cannabis home each year and the club's growing fields cannot be within 150m of a school, college or a drug rehabilitation centre.

Legalising cannabis has been a sensitive issue in Uruguay, where voters will be going to the polls in a second round of presidential elections on 30 November.

Both presidential candidates have said they will tinker with the new laws if elected.

The legislation has been the brainchild of the outgoing and outspoken President Jose Mujica, who has argued that if the state controls the growth and sale of cannabis production, it can weaken and disarm an illegal drug trade which damages lives across Latin America.

The government estimates there are 150,000 frequent users of cannabis in Uruguay.

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