Medical Marijuana Laws in Uruguay

Updated on December 28, 2018.  Medical content reviewed by Dr. Joseph Rosado, MD, M.B.A, Chief Medical Officer

Uruguay is unique when it comes to recreational and medical marijuana — neither has been criminalized in the country’s history. With its legalization of the sale of cannabis, however, Uruguay has introduced a set of laws for its sale, possession and cultivation, which are essential to know.

How Medical Marijuana Laws in Uruguay Influence Its Use

With a strict set of laws for its possession and cultivation, Uruguay influences the medical and recreational use of marijuana. Like many countries, Uruguay limits how much cannabis you may purchase each week to 10 grams. If you’re growing plants for personal use, you cannot exceed more than 480 grams a year.

As a result, dosage amounts are restricted for patients. For those with severe conditions, it may be difficult to alleviate your pain due to the limitations of Uruguay’s laws for medical and recreational weed. In the future, the government may make exceptions.

How Medical Marijuana Laws in Uruguay Affect the Medical Cannabis Program

The Institution of Regulation and Control of Cannabis (IRCCA) oversees Uruguay’s medical cannabis program. Anyone interested in purchasing or growing marijuana, whether it’s for recreational or medicinal use, must register with the IRCCA through their local post office. Applicants must provide proof of identity and residence.

This registry serves as a reference point for pharmacies, who scan the fingerprint of customers before dispensing their medical or recreational weed. Via the database, pharmacists can see your monthly and weekly quota for cannabis, which ensures you don’t violate your purchase limits.

How Medical Marijuana Laws in Uruguay Impact Criminalization

Uruguay is one of the only countries in the world to have never criminalized marijuana. Throughout the country’s history, people could carry medical or recreational marijuana without penalty — no matter the amount on hand. As a result, the country is known for some of the most liberal laws for cannabis.

For travelers visiting the country, however, purchasing medical or recreational weed is illegal. It’s also against the law for visitors and Uruguayans to cross international borders with cannabis.

How Medical Marijuana Laws in Uruguay Limit the Medical Cannabis Program

One of the limitations of medical marijuana laws in Uruguay, as noted earlier, is its restrictions on monthly and weekly purchase amounts. While 10 grams a week — or 40 grams a month — should meet most patients’ needs, it may not be enough for people with especially severe symptoms.

The minimum age requirement, 18 years old, also affects the program’s ability to help children with severe conditions. Research has shown medical marijuana helps children with a variety of ailments, from seizures to autism — and without the side effects of prescription drugs.

How Medical Marijuana Laws in Uruguay Protect Patients and Doctors

The security of patients, doctors and other members of the IRCCA registry is essential to the Uruguayan government. Pharmacists don’t even have access to the names of patients — only their remaining purchase quota for medical marijuana. To access the registry, three government employees must also be present.

The government further protects its citizens by ensuring recreational and medical weed both cost less than they do on the street — this also encourages patients to purchase their medical pot at a pharmacy.

Learn More About Medical Marijuana Laws in Uruguay

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Resources for Medical Marijuana Patients in Uruguay