Updated: Mar 18
Is cannabis tourism the future? Why isn’t it an option for those who constantly talk about wellness and connection with nature? What is preventing cannabis tourism from successfully exploding both in Latin America and around the world?
Here in Uruguay, there are many initiatives that advocate for fair, open, and environmentally friendly tourism options that are directly connected to medical and recreational usage of cannabis. However, more often than not, regulation and local laws prevent these initiatives from reaching their full potential.
In the following paragraphs we’ll learn more about the cannabis tourism industry in Uruguay, about the wellness center that YVY Life Sciences is about to open, and about the multiple paths we can take to make this dream a reality.
A problematic law that could change soon
Fact: Tourists are not permitted to purchase cannabis under Uruguay's current legislation for recreational usage of cannabis.
Only Uruguayan citizens and residents are allowed to do so, and they can obtain recreational cannabis in three different ways:
Register to buy from pharmacies and receive up to 40 grams per month for reasonable costs; considering that the IRCCA just increased the prices. The production and commercialization of these dried flowers are strictly controlled by the Uruguayan government.
Join a cannabis club. Members can receive up to 40 grams per month. Clubs are permitted to grow up to 100 plants.
Apply for a home grow license, and can grow up to 6 plants.
Numerous lawmakers and politicians from different parties have recently indicated support for legalizing sales to tourists, including Daniel Radio, secretary general of the National Drugs Board and president of IRCCA, who recently was quoted in an article stating that “(...) They hoped to legalize it this summer but that it would most likely happen sometime during 2023 (...)”.
This is a good start, however it will only enable flower sales. Other products, such as oils and edibles, should be incorporated since these products are being sold anyway, in an illegal and uncontrolled way.
The political party "Frente Amplio" recently proposed a bill that would allow clubs to cultivate up to 300 plants and allow temporary members (tourists) to legally purchase products.
The party also proposes enabling tourists to purchase cannabis from pharmacies in order to level the playing field. The dilemma here is that pharmacies do not have enough product for Uruguayans, and there are simply not enough pharmacies in key tourist areas. Another problem is that tourists want high THC cannabis and the flowers sold in pharmacies have a maximum of 10% THC.
There’s hope for cannabis tourism!
Uruguay made headlines as the first country in the world to legalize cannabis for both recreational and medical purposes. Thousands of international visitors have arrived in recent years because they believed they could also purchase cannabis.
When they arrive in Uruguay, though, they discover they are unable to purchase lawfully, so they still obtain it illegally. In reality, the regulation has spawned a thriving black market of illegal sales to visitors by recreational operators.
That being said, there is a growing momentum and support in Uruguay to legalize cannabis tourism.
On one hand, every year thousands of Brazilians, Argentinians and other Latin Americans visit the "ExpoCannabis", for example, with the sole purpose of obtaining cannabis and learning what's new in this hot industry.
Additionally, Uruguay has become a popular travel destination for people from all over the world, especially in this post pandemic era. There is no reason why, like the hospitality industry, we can't build a world-class cannabis tourism industry as well. Just as thousands of tourists visit Uruguay every year to visit its famous wineries, including our neighbors, Bodega Garzón, these same tourists and many more should be able visit cannabis farms and centers.
Last but not least, as a triple impact company, we have to mention that developing a cannabis tourism industry in Uruguay could create thousands of jobs for locals, as well as significant tax revenue for governments.
For those, and for many other reasons, we do what we do with so much devotion and dedication. Our dream is to be the main reference for cannabis tourism in Latin America.
Our cannabis-focused wellness center will open its doors very soon!
Last year we acquired La Tertulia, a renowned mansion built by Argentinian celebrity Susana Giménez. The property is located near the lovely village of Garzón, Uruguay.
The goal is to build -and to be- the first cannabis wellness center in Latin America, based on our concept and motto "Life, Better Lived".
The center is set to open soon and will include a 5-star hotel and restaurant, wellness activities, organic cannabis cultivation, cannabis experiences and branded consumer cannabis products once regulations allow.
For now, we are hosting private events, such as wellness or corporate retreats in La Tertulia. For further information or if you’d like to hold your own event in this unique space, get in touch with us.