Marley magic as ganja growers come out into open

Published: Sunday | December 29, 2013 Comments 0
Juan Palese, a marijuana grower, shows his crop outside of Montevideo, Uruguay. - AP
Juan Palese, a marijuana grower, shows his crop outside of Montevideo, Uruguay. - AP


Juan Andres Palese was using a fake name in public when he opened Uruguay's first store dedicated to cultivating marijuana. There he offered growing equipment and advice but no illegal plants or seeds.

Now that President Jose Mujica's plan to create and regulate the world's first national marijuana market has the force of law, Palese got much bigger plans.

His tiny shop, Urugrow, is already too small to support a rising number of clients, and he'll be moving to a larger, higher-profile locale soon.

Once the law's regulations are in place, he hopes to openly sell seeds and cuttings along with all the tools anyone needs to legally grow up to six plants in their own home.

The symbols of marijuana are in full bloom in Uruguay: T-shirts featuring designs of pot leaves are sold on the streets, the radio carries the music of Jamaican singer Bob Marley.

But the people who are so enthusiastically buying potting soil, lights and irrigation equipment to start their own marijuana gardens also could be buying trouble from police if they don't wait to start cultivating the weed until after the state launches its registration and licensing system, the nation's drug czar said last Thursday.

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