Uruguay on road to selecting marijuana cultivators

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Uruguay is moving closer to starting marijuana sales after a series of delays plagued the first country to legalize recreational cannabis at the national level.

Investors from as far away as Canada and Germany submitted bids last August for just five licenses to cultivate recreational marijuana for the government, and officials recently whittled the list down to 11 candidates.

Uruguay hopes to select finalists soon, and then it’ll likely be another three or four months before product can be harvested and delivered to pharmacies for sale.

But the endeavor won’t be cheap. According to some estimates, it will likely run between $1.5 million and $2 million to start a cultivation site, according to a report from Bloomberg.

And turning a profit won’t be easy either – the Uruguayan government, which will oversee all production and sales of cannabis, has mandated that growers sell 5- and 10-gram packages to pharmacies for no more than 90 cents per gram.

Cannabis will then be sold to customers at just $1 a gram, roughly a fifth of street rates. The price was set deliberately to undercut the nation’s black market.

Even with narrow room for profits, Canadian MMJ producer Tilray – a subsidiary of Seattle-based Privateer Holdings – submitted an application for a license.