Uruguay Faces Cannabis Shortage Through First Week of Legalization

Consumer excitement has caused the country's capital to request more product

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Demand has met and surpassed supply for the recently legalized adult cannabis market in Uruguay.

It took all but one day for the cannabis supply to run out in Uruguay. According to local press, on the first day of full legalized adult-use consumers were left with nothing in the capital city of Montevideo, which hosts four pharmacies allowed to sell cannabis. There are 16 total licensed pharmacies in all Uruguay.

“I was left with no stock,” Sebastian Scaffo, the owner of one of the four licensed pharmacies in Montevideo told La Nacion. “[I] couldn’t call to get my stock replenished.”

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Pharmacies in the capital had to request more product almost immediately

Ecos reported nearly 35 kilograms have been sold through the rigorous system in Uruguay since legalization kicked off on July 19.

“After a week of sales of cannabis in the country, the four pharmacies in Montevideo had to replenish for a third time,” the online website wrote.

According to Ecos, between 10 and 12 new pharmacies have shown interest in applying for the sale license. The number of licenses for people also saw an increase following the beginning of sales, up to the first day of legal sales 6,797 people had registered, in the past week, 1,200 applied.

On an account of the first day of sales in the country, El Observador reported the much anticipated day saw a variety of issues for consumers including long lineups and faulty computer recognition systems, which forced pharmacies to turn away people for whom the system didn’t recognize, yet claimed to have registered with the government in advance of the date.

“According to El Pais, cannabis ran out in the course of the day for all four licensed pharmacies in Montevideo,” El Observador wrote.

The restrictions put in place for the cannabis market in Uruguay, limit consumers to buy a monthly maximum of 40 grams. Currently, vendors are only allowed to sell 5-gram container bags, priced at $1.30 per gram. However, CNBC reported 10-gram containers are expected.

I think the situation in Uruguay is going to be heavily watched, it won’t be ignored,” Emilio Ruchansky editor of THC magazine, a cannabis lifestyle and culture publication told Resumen Del Sur.

Investor Takeaway

The situation in Uruguay has been closely followed by the Canadian market as it hopes to also legalize the sale of cannabis next year. However, the shortage experienced in the country is another example of a rush boom through legalization, a similar shortage is expected in Canada.

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Securities Disclosure: I, Bryan Mc Govern, hold no direct investment interest in any company mentioned in this article.

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