Can foreigners buy marijuana in Uruguay?

Weed is legal in Uruguay but as a non-resident you won't be able to buy cannabis. But you can receive gifts & smoke in public.
By Karen A Higgs
Marijuana Uruguay
Last updated on July 19, 2017

First of all, let’s get it straight. There are no sales of cannabis to visitors to Uruguay. To be able to buy weed, you need to be Uruguayan or a resident. So no, Uruguay is not the next Amsterdam. There are no brown cafes. But all is not lost, Uruguayans are super-friendly about offering their home-grown. So read on for more about the legal situation including how it affects travellers.

Buying weed in Uruguay

Uruguayan citizens and registered residents living here for at least two years are able to buy up to 40g of marijuana per month from the pharmacy.

Customers need to register at the post office with the information being fed to a central database. Anyone consuming their limit will be flagged for treatment or to see if they are selling their stash (which will be illegal).

Marijuana finally went on sale in July 2017, four years after the landmark legislation was approved.

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Graffiti found in Montevideo says "Cultivate awareness" © Guru'Guay

But say you are a visitor to Uruguay and someone offers you a joint or some marijuana as a gift – it’s yours for the smoking!

Personal use of cannabis has been decriminalised in Uruguay as far back as 1974. What is illegal is selling.

If you are wondering, Uruguay’s marijuana laws regarding public consumption are similar to the tobacco laws.

Over 18s can smoke pot anywhere other than a public building or enclosed place of work. So you can’t smoke inside a cafe or restaurant (a place of work for the wait staff) but you can smoke at the outdoor tables.

Growing your own

To be able to grow your own marijuana in Uruguay, first you have to register – at the post office.

I LOVE this. If you want to take the drama out of marijuana, pass this law. Don’t ask growers to register with the police. No, make it the good old homespun postal service. So Uruguayan.

Then any household can grow up to 6 plants*. Groups of between fifteen and 45 people can join together to form a “Club de Cannabis” and grow up to 99 plants*.

Registering to grow

Of course people are worried about the privacy issues around this central database. How can you be sure if the information will not be used by other government departments? This has turned off a fair few people from registering as growers already.

However I was really surprised when the law first came into effect a spoof video was filmed where real people were lured into a pharmacy in Parque Rodó (love the rasta chemist) under the pretence that a marijuana sales pilot was underway. On the video, you see people happily providing fingerprints and having their photo taken to get registered.

Is Uruguayan pot super cheap?

Licensed pharmacies are selling the drug for just over 1 USD a gramme –which is a tenth of what the same quantity would cost in the US.

* female, in flower

More on Marijuana

This article has benefited from the help of Rosina at AECU, the Uruguayan Association for Cannabis Studies in Parque Rodó, Montevideo.

[This article was first published November 24 2014 and last updated at the date above]

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28 Responses

  1. Boo! I wish I could retire there but am dependent on medical cannabis. Can’t wait years for residency. Boo!

    1. Hi Robert, perhaps I have some good news for you 😉 You can get temporary residency in just a few months, assuming you have all the paperwork together. If you’d like to find out about retirment and your specific situation, feel free to reach out for a one to one consultation. All the best — Karen

  2. Hi, The Guru! I know you probably don’t want to hear advice (who does anyway?) but I have taken a liking to your blog and I think you could change 2 things in it. One of them would be putting list of popular posts in sidebar, and other would be increasing the margin above headings, so the posts are easier to digest! With these two little tricks im sure your returning audience will grow in numbers. Especially the former thing, because if visitor checks some of your popular posts as well before leaving the site, then hes more likely to add it to favorites!

    Uruguay is beautiful country, its usually known for its wine, high economic development, beautiful places to visit, and safety (in comparison to South America, at least), but I guess smoking weed is good reason to go there as well!

    I have been in Uruguay once but didn’t smoke anything and didnt visit even half of the places you mentioned on your blog. So next time I go there with my partner, I’ll be sure to use your blog as a guide.

    I was wondering what made you stay in Uruguay? I mean, its beautiful place, but moving is a huge life altering decision. I moved to UK few times but never really felt like its good place to stay.

    O hope you keep growing your blog! Its one of not many blogs that landed in my bookmarks, and even in special folder. Cheers

    1. Hi Charles, I feel very honoured to be one of the few blogs in your bookmarks!! Thanks for taking the time to write, and… your suggestion is definitely a good one that I will be looking at. Regarding deciding to stay (I’m actually celebrating 20 years living here … today!), we came with the plan to stay in one place while our son was in primary school, and then we never left! There’s too much to love here. The quality of life is excellent. And I’m comparing that to both the UK where I grew up and the US where I lived for over five years. I’d invite you to have a look at my books, if you are considering Uruguay as an option for living. All the best, Karen

  3. We are a Tibetan family of 4-2 kids 2 adults traveling globally on low budget. We’ll be in Montevideo for a month. If anybody can give us a tour or their marijuana garden and can give us a tutorial on how its grown we’d greatly appreciate your kind hospitality.

  4. Hello! Im coming to uruguay in december with my girlfriend. It is first time in uruguay and also in latin-america. I know that it is illegal to buy cannabis as a non-citizen, but if cannabis is gifted to you, is it actually legal to carry a small amount with you as a tourist? I use cannabis for easing my jointpain, it’s illegal here where i live but it is the best painkiller with nice side-effects ???? is there some popular places in montevideo or somewhere else in uruguay where people go to have a good time and maybe puff a few joints?? and by the way we are staying in casa sarandi ? thanks!

  5. we travel by motorhome. for repairs we’re stuck here for over two months. We met several people who smoke. yet none could find us! not easy when you are foreigner !

  6. Hi, I saw your page and I found it really interesting. I lived in Las Vegas for more than 4 years and I just love smoking weed and chill. I have a Peruvian green card, which is from South America. I was wondering if residents can also relate to associated countries as well. Thank you, have a good one. Vamos Charruas !

    1. Nice try, Jimmy!! But no, that won’t work. Peru is a long way from Uruguay and even neighboring country residents are not included under current legislation. But I am sure you will meet some friendly local who can gift you!

  7. Hi, i just moved to montevideo in February to study in an university. Im taking care of my residence permit and should have it by thrusday, does that mean I can register at the pharmacy? Or do i have to wait two years? Also to register myself in the pharmacy is there an process? Or do you simply appear and apply and boom you got your stash? Is there a card they give you to show your registered? Thanks

    1. I also have another question, are the pharmacies selling pot already? Or its something that hasnt yet begun but will with time? Thanks again

      1. Hi Kayai, the pharmacies have not started selling marijuana yet. But the government-run harvest should be underway as I write, which means that it is only a matter of time. However do note that only Uruguayan citizens and legal residents will be able to buy cannabis over the counter. Not visitors. All the best Karen

    2. Ah, ok! Sorry, did not see your previous message. Any cannabis customer will have to register at the pharmacy and their details will be input into a national database. Let me check with my AECU contacts regarding the residency requirements. Best Karen

  8. Hola, soy brasileña y voy a estar aterrizando en un barco mañana. Sé que usted no puede comprar las malas hierbas que no soy un residente. pero, me pregunto si hay una visita guiada para conocer algunos club de hierba?

  9. Hi so a anyone can come to Uruguay can say rent a house there and therefor grow weed ? as it does not state that you cannot it only says you cant buy it. Is this the case?
    Kind regards
    Hayden

      1. Hi there Hayden, I finally got to AECU last night and talked to the helpful secretary, Matias. He tells me that the law for growing is the same as for buying, so you need to be a legal resident or citizen to be able to grow. Best Karen

  10. if you are from aborad and come to uruguay, send me a few lines, a lot of people here where I live in Aiguá will be happy to share and give you a taste, harvest time late april, may is wondrfull and the begining of shroom season, all r welcome, facebook, pelanan
    da, daniel menses

    1. Hi Daniel,

      Thank you! I would like to taste, if that is ok with you. I live in Montevideo.
      Kind Regards.

    2. HI Daniel, I was wondering if your offer still stands? I will be going to Montevideo next week and would love to try some Uruguayan homegrown!

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