Uruguay: After four years of legalization, nearly half of sales are on the legal market

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After more than four and a half years of legalization, the legal cannabis market in Uruguay serves between 39% and 56% of cannabis consumers in the country.

These data, taken from a recent report by theInstitute of Regulation and Control of Cannabis (IRCC) and reported by Stratcann, are based on a consumer survey conducted in August and September 2021 and cover the market through December 2021.

The survey puts around 250,000 the number of cannabis users over 18, the legal age to consume cannabis, in the country which has around 3.5 million inhabitants, or around 7% of the population. total. This figure represents 10% of the approximately 2.6 million Uruguayans who are of legal age.

Uruguay legalized cannabis in 2013, but only opened retail in July 2017. Consumers can register at one of three entry points: buy cannabis within a few dozen licensed pharmacies, grow their own cannabis, or grow as part of a cooperative where members share cultivation duties.

While initially only a handful of pharmacies participated in the program, their number has increased in recent years, leading to a general increase in legal sales.

Cannabis sold in pharmacies comes in 5 gram packets, with a limit of 40 grams per month. As of February 1, the price of a 5-gram package of dried cannabis flowers in pharmacies was set at 390 Uruguayan pesos, or around €10. Consumers can choose from four different cannabis strains sold in five-gram sachets, called Alfa I, Alfa II, Beta I and Beta II, with around 2% CBD and 9% THC, depending on the strain.

The average monthly purchase in pharmacies in 2021 was around 15 grams.

Fairly wide range of legal sales

Although survey data shows that only 29% of respondents said they had access to cannabis through legal channels, 43% said they shared it with friends and family, which would represent around 39% of the total market.

As registration to grow your own cannabis only lasts three years, policymakers estimate that if these licenses were automatically renewed, it would bring the total number to around 56% of the total market.

As of December 31, 2021, 47,515 people were registered to buy cannabis from pharmacies, while 13,441 were registered to cultivate their own cannabis, and another 7,032 were registered to cultivate in one of the 220 registered cultivation collectives in the country. .

Only 53% of people registered to buy cannabis in pharmacies did so in 2021.

From January to December 2021, the number of people registered on the regulated market increased by 11% and the people registered in a culture club/cooperative increased by 31%. 58 new Cannabis Clubs were registered in 2021.

A recent study showed that the legalization of cannabis in Uruguay did not increase consumption among young people.

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