Date: Wed, 19 Jul 2017 22:41:35 +0200
By Mauricio RABUFFETTI

Montevideo, July 19, 2017 (AFP) - Pharmacies in Uruguay started selling marijuana Wednesday under a four-year-old law that has made the small South American country the first in the world to legalize pot from production to sale.   At a pharmacy in Montevideo's Old Town, five customers were waiting to buy when the store shutters went up at the start of the day, and lines grew longer as the day went on.   "I've been smoking since I was 14. Let's give it a try," said a 37-year-old man who would not give his name.   "It's funny," a pharmacy employee told AFP on grounds of anonymity. "In two hours we filled only three prescriptions, but 30 people came to buy marijuana."

Some pharmacies saw as many as 20 people lining up to make their first legal pot purchase.    "We did not expect this kind of movement," said Sebastian Scafo, 33, a pharmacy manager.    In all, 16 pharmacies have been authorized to sell marijuana under state controls, barely enough to cover a country of 3.5 million people.   No major pharmacy chain has agreed to sell the drug.   Many pharmacies have been unwilling to participate in the scheme because of concerns about security and doubts that the small market of registered users is worth the trouble.   Only about 5,000 people, most of them age 30 to 44, have signed up as prospective buyers since Uruguay's state registry opened in early May.   Walk-in sales are not allowed under the law, and only residents of Uruguay can register to buy pot -- thereby preventing marijuana tourism.

-- Blow to drug-dealers? --
Among those trying the new legal distribution system was Xavier Ferreyra, a 32-year-old city employee, who was making his first purchase at a pharmacy in Montevideo's Old Town.    He said he saw two main advantages to the new approach: "safety and the quality" of the drug, adding, "I no longer have to go buy it in some slum."   Pharmacy sales are the last of three phases set out under the 2013 law.   Under the early phases, nearly 7,000 people registered to grow weed at home, and more than 60 smokers' clubs were authorized.   Only two companies were authorized to produce marijuana for pharmacies -- under military protection, and with no public access.

The state Institute for the Regulation and Control of Cannabis (IRCC) has authorized the sale of two types of marijuana, to be sold in five-gram packets.   On Monday, the National Drugs Council tweeted an image of what the packages would look like: blue-and-white sealed sachets that look something like condom packets.   An "Alfa I" package contains "Alfa I variety cannabis hybrid with Indica predominant."    Another sort has "Beta I variety cannabis" with Sativa. The levels of THC -- the psychotropic constituent in cannabis -- are given on the outside, for consumer information.   The packets also bear a "Warnings" section about the risks of consuming marijuana and recommendations on how to do it more safely.

-- 'A marvelous plant' --
The buyers who talked to AFP reporters all said they had bought 10 grams of pot, a packet of each variety on sale.   The packets are being retailed at $6.60 each, according to the IRCCA.   Customers are identified through a digital fingerprint reader, which allows them to buy without having to show other forms of identification in the store.   Uruguay's goal in legalizing the sale of marijuana for recreational use is to cut down on illegal smuggling.   Camila Berro, a 24-year-old business student, walked out of a pharmacy smiling, two packets of pot in hand.    "I feel very lucky to be able to get it legally," she said. "I have friends in other countries who were imprisoned for smoking a joint."   To Ferreyra, the municipal worker, "Uruguay has taken a very big step... I hope one day they can legalize a lot more drugs."   And former President Jose Mujica, who enacted the marijuana reforms while in office from 2010 to 2015, said that while "no addiction is good," it was "horrible to condemn a marvelous plant."    Uruguay, he added, is "trying a new path."
Date: Fri, 14 Jul 2017 23:01:15 +0200

Montevideo, July 14, 2017 (AFP) - Uruguay will allow pharmacies to sell marijuana starting next Wednesday, in the final phase of a law making the small South American country the first in the world to legalize and regulate pot from production to sale.   Under legislation approved in 2013, Uruguayans have been allowed to grow their own pot and smoke it in clubs.   But working out a timetable for pharmacies to sell it -- the third and last conduit called for in the legislation -- proved more tricky. This has now been resolved, the state agency regulating marijuana said in a statement Friday.

People have to register to buy pot in pharmacies, and so far 4,700 have done so, most of them in the 30 to 44 age group, according to government figures. Uruguay's total population is 3.4 million.   Under the first phase of the 2013 law, more than 6,600 people have registered to grow weed at home, and 51 smokers' clubs have been authorized.   The state Institute for the Regulation and Control of Cannabis (IRCC) has authorized the sale of two types of marijuana, to be sold in packages of five and 10 grams.

Pharmacists say they are not sure how profitable pot sales will be -- registered smokers can buy no more than 40 grams a month, at $1.30 a gram -- and they have expressed concern about training the employees who will handle pot, and providing security against theft.   There have also been questions about the quality and potency of the officially provided weed, with some saying it is remarkably weak.   Only two companies were authorized to produce marijuana for pharmacies -- under military protection, and with no public access.   Government officials insist they will prevent "cannabis tourism." Only Uruguayans and legal residents will be allowed to partake.
Date: Tue, 13 Jun 2017 01:10:17 +0200

Montevideo, June 12, 2017 (AFP) - Flooding in South America has forced almost 6,000 people to flee their homes along the Uruguay River, authorities said Monday.   More than 5,700 people fled their homes in Uruguay along the major waterway, as well as along some creeks flowing into it, since flooding started on May 26, according to officials in the Uruguayan capital Montevideo.   The bulk of those affected are in Salto department, a mostly rural area, as well as neighboring areas Artigas, Paysandu and Rio Negro, all on the country's western edge, the National Emergency System said.   Flooding has grown increasingly common in Uruguay.   And authorities fret that poor people often live close to rivers and streams for convenience -- only for the choice to cost them their lives.
Date: Fri 26 May 2017 15:01 hs
Source: Radio Monte Carlo [machine transl, edited]
<http://www.radiomontecarlo.com.uy/2017/05/26/nacionales/cien-personas-afectadas-por-brote-de-salmonella/>

The Ministry of Public Health (MSP) has confirmed that they are investigating 2 outbreaks of food poisoning that have affected more than 100 people in recent days. Sources report they analysed the germ and the bacteria that were in the foods consumed. One of the cases occurred in a family setting and affected 10 people -- one of them is in a serious condition. The other outbreak affected more than 100 people who attended a social event.

The cause of this intoxication is being investigated and at present it is not possible to say what food is responsible. Social media networks are circulating a message linked to an outbreak of salmonellosis that affected a family; but the MSP has not confirmed the aetiology of the food poisoning outbreaks that affected the family or the social event described above.  [byline: Luis Armando]
====================
[The aetiology or aetiologies of these outbreaks have not been stated officially but salmonellosis has been inferred on social media at least for one of the clusters. - ProMED Mod.LL]

[A HealthMap/ProMED-mail map can be accessed at:
<http://healthmap.org/promed/p/5414>.]
Date: Mon, 1 May 2017 22:53:52 +0200

Montevideo, May 1, 2017 (AFP) - Uruguay, which in July will become the first country selling state-produced cannabis in pharmacies for recreational use, will open a user registry on Tuesday, authorities said.   Any Uruguayan or permanent resident wishing to purchase cannabis in that way will be required to register.    The drug will be sold for $1.30 per gram, in five and 10-gram packets, with each user limited to 10 grams (0.35 ounce) per week.   For now, Uruguay has a supply of 400 kilos (880 pounds) of marijuana on hand, produced by two private firms under state control.

The country adopted a controversial law in December 2013 providing three avenues for legal access to cannabis: cultivation at home for personal use, membership in a state-regulated cannabis club growing the weed cooperatively, or purchase through a pharmacy.   The first two methods are now in practice, but distribution through pharmacies was resisted by many of their owners, and that approach was repeatedly postponed.

The 2013 initiative, which drew worldwide attention, was launched by former president Jose Mujica, a leftist who was once an urban guerrilla fighter, as a way to undermine drug-trafficking gangs. A farmer who became a politician, Mujica is famous for his austere lifestyle; as president he continued to drive an old car, kept living on his wife's small farm and donated most of his salary to charity.
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