A marijuana home grower works on a marijuana flower in his home in Montevideo, Uruguay. Photograph: Andres Stapff/Reuters
The first country in the world to legalize marijuana sales was Uruguay, a tiny South American nation with a population of only 3.3 million wedged between Brazil and Argentina.
Uruguay fully legalized the production and sale of marijuana in December 2013 after a decade-long grassroots movement headed by mostly middle-class consumers managed to convince the government it was safer to legally sell weed rather than to allow drug dealers to run the market.
The system now in place grants licenses to private producers for large-scale cannabis farming and regulates its distribution at a controlled price of about one dollar a gram through pharmacies to registered consumers.
Private individuals are also allowed up to six plants at home. Larger amounts can be grown at “cannabis clubs” where individuals band together to produce marijuana in greater quantities as long as it is not for sale.