Montevideo (AFP) - Uruguay, the world's first country to legalize marijuana, is aiming to produce between six and 10 tons of pot a year for local use, a senior government official told AFP.
National Drug Board chief Milton Romani told AFP in an interview that the pot would be distributed through pharmacies and sold to registered users at $1.40 a gram.
Almost everything is set so that sales can begin, Romani said. Officials need to choose companies to distribute the weed, and "we just need to fine-tune the software for registration and pharmacy sales," he said.
In December 2013, Uruguay approved a law that lets the state grant licenses to grow and harvest marijuana that will be sold to registered users through pharmacies.
Under the law, Uruguayan citizens and residents can buy up to 40 grams (1.4 ounces) of weed a month from the pharmacies, grow it themselves at home, or join cannabis clubs where members jointly tend to the plants.
Two companies were chosen in early October to grow and harvest marijuana.
Romani said that they have a variety of weed native to Uruguay dubbed "charrua cannabis."
Uruguay's football team is known as the "charruas," which was the name of the indigenous people who formerly lived in the small South American country.
The government estimates that there is "a market of some 160,000 Uruguayans that frequently or occasionally consume marijuana," Romani said.
"That means, more or less, we're talking about ... some six, eight, ten tons a year" of marijuana, he said.
The law legalizing marijuana, introduced by former president Jose Mujica (2010-2015), was presented as an "experiment" -- a concept that Romani emphasized remains in effect.
He also said that there are 3,100 registered home growers, 15 pot clubs in the process of registration, and two that have already been approved.
Foreign visitors however shouldn't expect to travel to Uruguay in search of legal puffs of Mary Jane: only registered local users can access pot.