Uruguay picks two marijuana cultivators

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The first nation to legalize recreational marijuana has selected a pair of companies to grow and produce cannabis that will eventually be sold at state-owned pharmacies.

Simbiosys SA, which is backed by Uruguayan and Argentinian investors, and Iccorp won the two licenses over nine other competitors, according to Bloomberg. Simbiosys’ investors may put as much as $2 million into cultivation operations, a spokesman told Bloomberg.

Canadian MMJ producer Tilray reportedly was among the contenders.

Now that the licenses have been awarded, recreational cannabis could be available at Uruguayan pharmacies in as little as eight months, an official said at a news conference last week.

The update comes after months of heel-dragging by the state since Uruguay became the first country in the world to approve legal marijuana in 2013.

The Uruguayan market could consist of 161,000 people that consume marijuana at least once a year, Bloomberg reported. Customers will be able to purchase up to 40 grams a month, or about 1.4 ounces, for roughly $1 a gram. But only Uruguayan citizens will be allowed to buy rec cannabis in the country.