MONTEVIDEO – Marijuana accounted for most of the illegal drugs seized in Uruguay between March 2 and Dec. 31, 2015, the Interior Ministry said Thursday, citing figures from the DGRTID drug enforcement agency.
During the period, drug enforcement units, both national and regional, seized more than 2.5 tons of marijuana, nearly 135 kilos of cocaine and 67.6 kilos of cocaine paste, a cheaper drug composed of cocaine adulterated with other substances.
The fact that marijuana still accounts for most of the drugs seized in Uruguay is surprising since the sale and purchase of the substance was legalized in 2013 by the administration of former President Jose Mujica.
The government expects that regulated marijuana produced in Uruguay will be available for sale at pharmacies by mid-2016.
Both consumers and stores selling legal marijuana – priced at about $1.20 per gram – will be required to be listed in a national registry.
DGRTID operations have shut down 865 locations at which drugs were sold and distributed in Uruguay, the Interior Ministry said.
The majority of the locations – 508 – were busted in the country’s main metropolitan area comprised of the provinces of Montevideo, Canelones and San Jose, where more than half of Uruguay’s 3.3 million people live.
Anti-drug efforts resulted in the arrests of 2,554 people, with 763 of the suspects going to trial and being held in preventive imprisonment; 470 resulting in non-prison sentences; and 23 minors being sent to juvenile detention facilities, the ministry said.