Here’s a Ganjapreneur report…..
According to a Brookings Institute report, Uruguay’s legal cannabis program has been hindered by supply problems and curtailed access to financial services but the market is maturing and officials are planning to widen the legal points of sale from pharmacies to retail dispensaries.
Cannabis Wire look at it from the Tourism angle
Will Uruguay open the door to cannabis tourism?
Uruguay is attracting cannabis tourists, even though it’s illegal for non-residents to purchase cannabis. A new Brookings report on Uruguay, the first country in the world to legalize and regulate recreational (“non-medical”) use cannabis, found that tourists are traveling for access (a concern that officials had during conversations about legalization).
While sales to tourists aren’t allowed, the market exists, and tempts citizens to grow cannabis and make it available. Uruguayan citizens are stretching a loophole to offer a supply through “cannabis tours.” While these are messaged as educational, paid trips, tourists sample cannabis during the course of the tour — similar to cannabis tourism options that have cropped up in the United States thanks to loopholes. The less creative option is that Uruguayan residents just sell cannabis to visitors, creating a “gray market quietly operating via word of mouth.” Law enforcement is serious about halting this kind of activity, though. Last February, according to Brookings, cops seized about 800 cannabis plants from a club that handed out samples to tourists staying in a hostel; the club’s license was subsequently stripped by the government.
There aren’t any good estimates for how many tourists are packing up and heading for Uruguay primarily for access to cannabis, but as anyone who has traveled to Amsterdam knows, cannabis tourism is popular. “During an October 2017 research trip, this report’s authors witnessed this dynamic firsthand, observing illicit sales at a Montevideo paraphernalia shop that itself catered to tourists,” the Brookings report noted.
Still, data reflects that after legalization, the country experienced a roughly 20% spike in tourism to Uruguay during November 2017-February 2018, which is the height of Uruguay’s typical tourist season. So what are officials going to do? Brookings suggests that law enforcement efforts are unlikely to be successful in stopping the flow of curious travelers to the country in search of cannabis, so the government might consider amending regulations to allow tourists to access the legal market. Sebastian Sabini, a lawmaker and co-sponsor of the legalization legislation, said “Many come to Uruguay to get to know the legal [cannabis] system. However, they end up buying in illicit drug markets because pharmacies still can’t sell to tourists. In the medium term we are evaluating the possibility of changing this situation.”