Pioneering Uruguay set to begin exporting medical marijuana

April 25th, 2019 by admin Leave a reply »

Nueva Helvecia (Uruguay) (AFP)

Already the first country in the world to legalize recreational use of marijuana, Uruguay now aims to go further by becoming the first in Latin America to export it for medicinal purposes.

It’s taken a year to get to this point but in Nueva Helvecia — 120 kilometers (75 miles) west of the capital Montevideo — the first harvest is ready to be sent abroad.

Employees of the US company Fotmer — the only one currently licenced to export — are cutting and drying the plant before it is exported to Europe, Canada and Australia.

In taking this step, Uruguay is joining the ranks of medicinal marijuana exporters dominated by the United Kingdom, which according to United Nations data from 2016 had cornered more than two thirds of the market.

The Netherlands (16.4 percent) and Austria (8.7) are the other major players although a growing number of countries are investing in producing medical marijuana, which is legal in around 30 countries worldwide.

“Uruguay has been visionary,” said Jordan Lewis, 46, one of Fotmer’s owners.

“The market is growing” and Lewis believes Uruguay — a country in which cannabis can be bought in pharmacies — could lead the way.

This year, Fotmer aims to produce six tons of medicinal marijuana but Lewis’s ultimate goal is to reach 400 tons a year in return for a $15 million investment.

It has installed 18 greenhouses in Uruguay covering 30,000 square meters (320,000 square feet).

– Tightly regulated –

The plants can grow to two meters (6.5 feet)high after

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