By Steve Elliott
Uruguay President Jose Mujica's plan to create and regulate the world's first modern national marijuana market now is the law of the land in this small South American nation, and those who have, until now, been black market cannabis growers are starting to come out into the open.
Symbols of marijuana are seen everywhere in Uruguay, reports The Associated Press. Pot-leaf t-shirts are sold on the streets, the music of Bob Marley and the Wailers plays on the radio, and cultivation shops are doing a brisk business.
But those who are buying lights, soil and irrigation equipment to grow weed could get in legal trouble if they don't wait to start growing until after the government launches its registration and licensing system, Uruguay's drug czar said on Thursday.
"From a strictly formal point of view, you still can't [grow]," said Julio Calzada, secretary general of the national drug junta. "Until the regulations are in place, there's no way to legally have marijuana plants in your house."
Once registered and licensed, though, any citizen of Uruguay will be allowed to either grow plants at home, joint a cannabis-growing club, or buy marijuana from pharmacies, according to Calzada. Pay particular attention to that "once registered" part, because, according to Calzada, "If a person isn't registered, he'll have legal problems, and the plants will be seized."