New Developments for Cannabis
Uruguay has proven itself to be one of the leading cannabis markets in South America. If you’re considering developing a business in cannabis in Uruguay, book a consultation with us to discuss our proven Value Added Systems for South American cannabusinesses or a Feasibility Study for your unique project.
Urugay's Relationship with Cannabis
In 2013, Uruguay became the first country to pass legislation allowing patients access to legal pot. Currently, its cannabis industry is rapidly expanding.
This short guide summarizes the history of and attitude toward cannabis in Uruguay and serves as a launching pad for anyone looking to enter Uruguay’s lucrative cannabis market.
Questions on cannabis
HISTORY OF CANNABIS IN URUGUAY
For many years, Uruguay had some of the most relaxed cannabis regulation in the world. Buying and selling cannabis products was technically illegal, but it was allowed under informal agreements between individual consumers and government officials.
While recreational consumption has always been tolerated in Uruguay, selling it on the black market has remained dangerous because of the risk that one might be caught by police.
The move to officially legalize cannabis marked a major turning point in Uruguay’s cannabis market.
Around Cannabis in Uruguay
In late July 2013, the bill to officially legalize cannabis in Uruguay for cultivation and sale was passed by the Chamber of Deputies and sent to Uruguay's Senate, where it was passed by the Senate's Health Commission in late November and fully accepted by the Senate in mid-December.
The president at the time, President Mujica, later approved the bill into law in late December 2013. All in all, this groundbreaking bill on cannabis in Uruguay passed into law within six months. It became Ley N° 19.172 (Law Number 19,172), and it made Uruguay the first country to federally legalize cannabis.
This new law legalized all adult-use cannabis businesses and helped the Uruguayan government keep track of who was growing what, where they were growing it, how much they were producing, and how much they were charging.
Under the new law, any businesses that want to legally produce or sell weed products must apply for licenses through their local municipal government. The main takeaway from this action is that while the market for cannabis in Uruguay remains friendly, it does now require adherence to official processes.
FOR CANNABIS IN URUGUAY
Country law requires potential investors to obtain specific licenses and permits before conducting any kind of activities related to cannabis in Uruguay.
Foremost of these is a government-issued license to grow and sell cannabis. Close in its footsteps is the official permission from the local municipality to start up any cannabis-related business.
In April 2014, after the passage of Law Number 19,712, the government began issuing licenses for private businesses interested in legally producing cannabis and its derivatives.
By June 2014, over 5,000 people had registered to grow or sell cannabis in Uruguay commercially. Business licenses are awarded on a case-by-case basis — first come, first serve.
Read on to learn more about these requirements and how to meet them so you can legally grow and sell cannabis in Uruguay.
Contact Us to discuss cannabis
Licenses in Uruguay
If you are looking to attain a license for hemp or cannabis in Uruguay Higher Yields Cannabis Consulting can help. Our team of cannabis licensing consultants and technical writers has had great success helping newcomers and experienced operators attain licenses all over the world.
REGULATION OF LICENSES
TO GROW OR SELL CANNABIS IN URUGUAY
Uruguay’s cannabis legislation defines the process for growing and selling cannabis.
The Uruguayan Institute for the Regulation and Control of Cannabis (IRCCA), created by Law Number 19,172, regulates the cultivation, production, research, and commercialization of all cannabis in Uruguay.
The IRCCA also issues licenses for all stages of production, from cultivation to export, so it is important that you have all of your paperwork ready when you submit your application.
APPLICATION PROCESS FOR A CANNABIS LICENSE IN URUGUAY
Companies and individuals can both apply for official licenses to work with cannabis in Uruguay.
To receive a license as a company, you must apply at the Montevideo IRCCA headquarters directly. In addition to payment information and detailed business plans, applicants are required to list their farming methods and locations, inventory management practices, and security systems.
Note that the name for your company that is listed on all forms will be displayed publicly once approved, so be sure that it reflects well on your brand image.
If you are an individual, you must apply through your region’s institute, which will send your application to the IRCCA headquarters for consideration. Note that each of Uruguay’s 19 departments (areas — like provinces or states) has a specific IRCCA location that accepts applications.
Though the process seems straight forward, the new legislation has introduced several intricacies that can be intimidating to newcomers and veterans alike.
With guidance from the cannabis business professionals at Higher Yields Consulting, you can be sure that your new venture will comply with all necessary licensing regulations to sell or grow cannabis in Uruguay — and that your venture will be set up for future success.
Cannabis Imports to and Exports From Uruguay
To export cannabis from Uruguay, your business must first obtain a license from the Ministry of Livestock, Agriculture and Fisheries. Once you’ve received your license, you can begin the process of getting export approval through the Foreign Trade Ministry and finalize all documents.
Your shipment will require a Certificate of Origin stating that it was produced in Uruguay. Additionally, all shipments over 20 kilograms must be accompanied by two copies of original packaging labels (one in Spanish and one in English).
If you want to import cannabis into Uruguay, your shipment must be sent via express mail — courier services are prohibited. You will also need an import permit.
Every package should contain full labeling detailing specifics about each product contained within it as well as its weight (in grams) and THC content.
Keep these requirements handy when filling out your Customs form upon arrival to Uruguay; failure to comply with Customs requirements could result in fines or even seizure of products.
The Future of Cannabis In Uruguay
Uruguay is looking to become a global leader for legal weed production and export by setting up favorable regulations around cultivation, possession, and sale of medical marijuana.
For recreational users who want to grow their own plants instead of buying them, in theory, they will also be able to purchase seeds under the new laws.
Moving forward, Uruguay looks to be one of the earliest countries to capitalize not only on cannabis legalization but also on cannabis tourism. Over the next several years, it is projected that the market for cannabis in Uruguay will exceed $1 billion USD in revenue.
Lots of money is pouring into Uruguayan companies as investors try to capitalize on early adoption status, so now is the time to partner with licensed cultivators or cannabis consultants who specialize in getting people into the cannabis market before regulations change!
Keep in mind that Uruguay is not alone when it comes to legalized marijuana. Countries like Portugal and Jamaica have decriminalized personal possession of small amounts of marijuana. Canada has fully legalized adult use (and cultivation) of marijuana since July 2018.
One of our cannabis consulting professionals at Higher Yields Consulting can help you understand the licensing laws and regulations for cannabis in Uruguay — and in any other country in the world where cannabis has been legalized in one form or another.
Last updated: July 2022