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Uruguay to Allow Marijuana Sales Outside Pharmacies after Banking Problems

By: Karina Martín - Sep 14, 2017, 4:04 pm
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Assistant Secretary of the Presidency Juan Andrés Roballo said this week that officials are introducing a new way in which marijuana will be sold. (Twitter)

EspañolOfficials in Uruguay have announced plans to create new avenues for selling legal cannabis following problems with the country’s banks regarding questions surrounding cash-only payments at pharmacies.

Assistant Secretary of the Presidency Juan Andrés Roballo said this week that officials are introducing a new way in which marijuana will be sold.

Though he did not provide further details on the types of venues that will offer the new product, he did indicate that the operation will be similar to the one currently used with pharmacies, but that they will be local, focus only on the sale of cannabis for recreational purposes and won’t be tied to the financial system.

“We need to generate tools so that the distribution system improves its conditions and can reach consumers,” he added.

The government has “the possibility of regulating exclusive outlets for cannabis, which guarantee the same safety conditions, quality controls and sanitary aspects as pharmacies, but adapted for cash transactions,” he said.

Roballo clarified that this is a “provisional solution” and that officials are currently seeking “financial inclusion” as a definitive solution.

“This is an exceptional situation that enables exceptional solutions,” he said. “The best, and definitive (solution), would be a change in legislation (in the United States).”

Roballo ruled out that the new venues will involve herbalists, an alternative option that had been criticized for not providing a strong enough long-term solution.

The sale of marijuana in pharmacies began on July 19 and since then, the system has collapsed while experiencing considerable drawbacks.

According to data from the Institute for Regulation and Control of Cannabis, the system started with 4,959 registered customers. Since then, the shortage of the product has posed a problem: according to pharmacy sources, the drug always runs out shortly after it goes on sale.

The supply is already too low, and the number of people registered to buy marijuana continues to increase — currently hovering around around 13,500. Some pharmacies chose to stop selling cannabis once banks began backing out.

The situation grows increasingly tense as the supply climbs higher and higher above the demand. Pharmacies are currently only allowed to stock a maximum supply of two kilograms of the product.

Sources: El Observador; La Nación; T13.

Karina Martín Karina Martín

Karina Martín is a Venezuelan reporter with the PanAm Post based in Valencia. She holds a bachelor's degree in Modern Languages from the Arturo Michelena University.