In an attempt to steer customers away from the illegal cannabis market and toward the regulated market, the administration of Uruguayan President Luis Lacalle Pou is planning to allow tourists to buy marijuana. Currently, Uruguayan law requires adult citizens and foreign residents to join a government registry in order to join a cannabis club, grow their own pot, or buy up to 40 grams a month at authorized pharmacies.
Typically, millions of Argentines and Brazilians head for the country’s beaches in the summer (December through February in the southern hemisphere). Tourist access to the country’s legal cannabis market would dramatically increase their customer base. The COVID-19 pandemic decimated Uruguay’s typical tourism numbers as they limited foreign visits. Uruguay plans to reopen its borders to all fully vaccinated foreigners starting Nov. 1.
“It seems to me that if we come up with a good proposal,” Uruguay could open its regulated pot market to tourists, said Daniel Radio, secretary-general of the National Drugs Board. “For the upcoming tourism season, it’s highly unlikely, but I wouldn’t rule it out.”
Previously, Deputy Tourism Minister Remo Monzeglio has proposed charging foreign tourists higher prices, and using proceeds to help fund addiction treatment and rehabilitation programs.
The fastest way to open pharmacies and cannabis clubs to tourists is through a presidential decree. Any plans to waive the database requirement, would require Congress to pass legislation.
The administration of Uruguayan President Luis Lacalle Pou could release its plan before the end of the year in order to build political consensus and support.