Uruguay “sort of” legalized marijuana at the end of 2013. Being a place where free-market is generally considered a bad thing, and government somehow a creator of wealth, the experiment has proceeded with predictable ham-fisted bureaucracy. The government controls all production, licenses growers and buyers, limits the amount they can buy in a month, etc. At present there are maybe 16 pharmacies (all in Montevideo AFAIK) where one can buy marijuana, and they have had their bank accounts closed because of the ham-fisted and arrogant United States federal government. This echoes the contradiction between state and federal laws in the U.S.: marijuana is legal in California and Nevada, but if you transport it across the border you’re committing a federal offense.
However, there is good news: Hemp Planting to Triple in Uruguay. And the Expo Cannabis has gone from rinky-dink three years ago (according to Syd) to quite impressive.
As you might guess, most of the crowd was younger than yours truly.
The first display inside the door showed a variety of products including hemp oil, and dog care products that Syd really wanted to buy. Not for sale? It took me an embarrassingly long time to realize the display was for the Museo del Cannabis Montevideo.
Nearby, a display of plants.
We quickly noticed a number of booths had hydraulic presses. We were a bit mystified, then watched a demonstration of extracting cannabis oil with heat and pressure — far safer than using toxic solvents, which then have to be boiled off.
Many booths were selling seeds and growing apparatus, and the government was there with a booth where you could register with the authorities. Several booths centered on medicine and healing, as did a number of the presentations/panel discussions.
I started asking questions about seeds when I saw “AUTO“ in some of their names (autofloreciente). Fascinating stuff.
My only regret is that I didn’t ask more questions, because in the car on the way back, discussing what we had seen, we had plenty more.