New study says only 27% of Uruguayan consumers buy their cannabis through approved channels

France 24 reports

A bland and insufficient state supply has meant most consumers still prefer the diversity of the black market.

In 2013, Uruguay became the first country in the world to legalize recreational marijuana use — which came into effect four years later — even permitting its sale in pharmacies.

There are three legal ways for registered users to get hold of marijuana: purchasing it at pharmacies, through home growing for personal use, and by belonging to an official cannabis-producing club.

The most sought after legal method is membership of one of the 249 consumer clubs, which offer a greater variety to their 7,166 members than pharmacies do.

But many clubs have long waiting lists to join as they are limited by law to between 15 and 45 members.

Pulla, the treasurer and technical manager of a cannabis club in Montevideo — who uses a nickname to avoid falling foul of the ban on promoting cannabis use — explained that the waiting list “is an indicator that demand is not satisfied.”

“Many more people want to access the legal market who still cannot,” he said.

There are just over 14,000 registered home growers and another 49,600 people are registered to purchase marijuana at one of the country’s 28 approved pharmacies at around $10 for five grams — below the black market rate.

According to a study by the local IRCCA institute that regulates cannabis, only 27 percent of Uruguayan consumers buy their drugs through approved channels, a figure that reaches 39 percent when taking into account sharing with friends.

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