Uruguay made a major step forward a few years ago with an extremely ambitious plan to completely legalize cannabis in the entire country. They first legalized the sale and cultivation of the plant back in 2013, hoping that it would put a major dent in the cartel’s business. Uruguay has been long terrorized by crime and homicides related to the drug war. Unfortunately the sale of cannabis in Uruguay under the system set up by the government has been very slow moving. At this point the law in Uruguay lets licensed individuals grow pot, plus people can form user or grower clubs. The country hoped to add pharmacies into the mix this month by allowing them to sell 40 grams of cannabis to registered users total per month. This all sounds good and dandy, but it doesn’t look like things are going to be going that smoothly because the pharmacies aren’t interested in getting involved. As brave as this pioneering legalization program might sound, it has many pharmacists running scared at the thought of interfering with the cartel.
A legalization plan that was once the talk of the entire world is starting to fizzle out now that they can’t convince pharmacies to be a part of the process. Apparently there’s a plethora of reasons other than just the cartel however. One of the biggest reasons cited by pharmacists is that their conservative customers just want nothing to do with it. They believe that they will lose a huge amount of business if they started offering cannabis. Plenty of pharmacists share the conservative views of their customers and believe that this is step is crossing the line of selling a drug rather than medicine. The pharmacies would also face hiked up tax charges that don’t make the idea of selling cannabis any more appealing. These are just some of the biggest reasons that only a dismal 50 pharmacies of the country’s 1200 have signed up to sell cannabis. The biggest reason of all is definitely the fear of security when it comes to stepping on the cartel’s business.
It seems that across the board pharmacists in Uruguay are not comfortable of taking on the extra risks that selling cannabis would bring to their stores. The country already faces a lot of crime and pharmacies are known to be targets for robberies as it is. Not only would having cannabis make them a more likely target because of the raw product, but because they will have angered the local drug cartel that they are stealing business from. Many believe that the risk just isn’t worth it at the end of the day. Especially when you take into consideration that the law doesn’t apply to tourists that are visiting the country. To buy cannabis from a pharmacy the person has to be a citizen of Uruguay and be over 18 years old. Even the pharmacists that have enrolled in the program and plan on selling cannabis aren’t trying to draw attention to themselves. Sometimes the government in these places can be too corrupt to expect pharmacies to have faith in being properly protected from the powerful cartel. I would like to think that interested pharmacies will continue to trickle in as the months go by. Maybe some day soon Uruguay can be the pioneering legal beacon of hope against the drug war that it hoped to be.