MONTEVIDEO, URUGUAY — Uruguay, about to become the first country in the world where the state will fully regulate production, sale and distribution of marijuana, will spend the next few months selecting a good quality strain of the crop that can be sold at a price similar to current illegal prices.

Uruguayan President José Mujica signed law 19.172 on the regulation of marijuana on Dec. 23. But it won’t go into effect until April, 120 days after it was approved by Congress on Dec. 10, and once the government has established specific regulations for the new legislation.

Since the 1970s, consumption and possession of small amounts of marijuana for personal use have not been penalised in this South American country of 3.3 million people sandwiched between Argentina and Brazil. But cultivation, sale and distribution of the drug have been illegal up to now.

When the 44-article law enters into force, the entire sector will be under the regulation and oversight of the Institute for the Regulation and Control of Cannabis, a new government institution created by the law.

But there is much to do before April. Among the most important steps are to decide the type of marijuana to be planted, who will grow […]

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