One of the most anticipated moments of #Confedrogas2018 was the Magisterial Conference of the Secretary General of the National Board of Drugs of Uruguay, Diego Olivera, who shared the details of the implementation of the regulation of cannabis in his country, which just turned 5 years old from the sanction of the law.

Why cannabis regulation in Uruguay? The Uruguayan official asked himself. “We were driven by the exhaustion of the prohibitionist approach and the reconceptualization of problematic drug use through the perspective of harm reduction and risk management, as well as the public health approach.” “There is also a question of coherence; in the absence of the penalty of use, why then penalize access “. He also referred to the “need to build a new approach on public safety, coexistence and Human Rights.”

Then he developed how the regulation was carried out. “We present a Plan for life and coexistence with the need to take public control over the drug markets. This gave way to a broad social and parliamentary debate. “We must highlight the leading role of the social movement and the National Drugs Section.” “We assume the challenge of reviewing the application of International Conventions,” he said.

“The regulation of cannabis has removed most of the users from exposure to illicit activities and has made it possible to reduce the damage caused by access to substances of poorer quality. In addition, it has snatched a substantial part of the market from traffickers”said Olivera.

“We created a new institutionalization, the Cannabis Regulation and Control Institute (IRCCA), which regulates and supervises cannabis-related activities, from plantation to retail, for the different routes: industrial, medicinal, research and non-medical use. He also advises the Executive Power on the matter”.

Complementary decrees and economic activities

Then the Uruguayan official explained the decree that regulates scientific research and medicinal uses: “Regulates the planting, cultivation, harvesting, distribution and commercialization of psychoactive and non-psychoactive cannabis to be exclusively destined to scientific research, or to the preparation of plant or pharmaceutical specialties for medicinal use “. “Currently there is a license granted for the cultivation of 10 tons of flowers per year and one for industrialization, and we have 25 productive or research projects under evaluation.”

“We are betting that the productive activities in relation to cannabis benefit the economy and the well-being of the Uruguayans”.

In this regard, he highlighted the regulation of industrial hemp for non-psychoactive cannabis, with THC below 1%. “It is the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries that grants the licenses and authorizes the importation, exportation and cultivation of non-psychoactive cannabis. Currently there are 11 licenses granted and authorization to cultivate more than 1,200 hectares, “he said.

Finally, he detailed the 3 ways to obtain non-medical psychoactive cannabis and the number of registered. “For domestic cultivation there are 6,920 registered, we have 109 membership clubs and 29,935 for dispensing in pharmacies. These are exclusive routes, which require mandatory registration for Uruguayans or permanent residents over 18 years of age.

“Finally, the regulation of cannabis is a central component of the reform of an exhausted drug policy and a key tool for the deepening of democracy and social equity,” the Uruguayan official concluded