STORIES

Uruguay Continues Prohibition for Tourists

By David Jenison on February 14, 2018

Cannabis legalization has finally come to Uruguay, just not for tourists. 

After years of anticipation, the first country to legalize cannabis finally saw prohibition end in 2017, and the result has been a rapid 20-percent reduction in drug-related crime. However, tourists pack the Uruguayan beaches during the summer (which is the current season south of the equator), and many were surprised to learn that cannabis is still prohibited for them. 

The new law allowed adult citizens and residents to smoke cannabis and purchase it from a pharmacy or directly from the farm. Consumption is allowed in public and in social clubs, and when tourists see the locals smoking, they often try to purchase cannabis illegally from them. This is exactly what the country wanted to avoid, and it highlights one of the major struggles with any form of cannabis prohibition. Simply put, prohibition doesn't work. 

Still, even with the tourist issue, Uruguay already benefits from a reduced crime rate, and the country now hosts popular events like December's Expocannabis Uruguay in Montevideo and January's Cannabis Conference in Punta del Este. The national experiment is off to a positive start, and expanding sales to tourists appears to be the logical next step. 

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