Uruguay: illegal cannabis trafficking decreases after legalization

Since the cannabis market in Uruguay was legalized, consumers turn to the black market 5 times less to stock up


Since the cannabis market in Uruguay was legalized, consumers turn to the black market 5 times less to stock up, this is the data offered by the government at the close of 2019.

The seizures have remained fairly stable when compared to recent year, according to the National Police. In addition, the National Drug Board said the legal market has taken drug trafficking at least $ 22 million.

Even so, because the most lucrative substance for drug trafficking is not cannabis, but cocaine, it is difficult to measure the real impact on the overall decline of this scourge. Especially if you take into account that the seizures are of all types of drugs.

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However, legalization has shown good results.

According to the results of a new study of the Drug Board:

“In four years, users resorted to drug trafficking five times less: if in 2014 58% said they got the drug illegally, in 2018 the figure dropped to 18%.”

After legalization, the government gradually increased the sources of access to cannabis taking into account the possibility that people can and have the right to stock up through self-cultivation, go to a club or buy in pharmacies.

The cultivation and sale in pharmacies since 2016 has had an organic growth. As demand rises, the State grants new permits for production. For example, by October the companies authorized to produce cannabis went from 2 to 5.

Thus, one in three consumers went to the state-regulated market in 2018, through the purchase in pharmacies (implemented in 2016), self-cultivation or membership in a registered club. For Marcos Baudean, a sociologist and consultant for the National Drug Board, these results clearly show the success of the Uruguayan experience, unique in the world as it not only legalizes, but leaves the production of the drug under state control.

“With regard to drug trafficking, these are strong results, even more positive if one considers that in these years the problematic use of marijuana remained stable at 16% of the respondents, and that the age of onset to consumption is delaying and averaging at 25 years, ”says Marcos Baudean JND consultant.

Consumption in young people remained stable

According to the figures of the Institute of Regulation and Control of Cannabis (IRCCA), there are 4,246 people registered in the clubs, 38,771 registered in the pharmacies and almost 8000 legal self-cultivators.

Although these data may generate concern about behavior in the youngest, legalization does not authorize this population to consume the substance and according to government studies, its consumption has stabilized in recent years.






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