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Uruguay’s Groundbreaking Journey in Marijuana Legalization and Its Impacts

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By: Juan Sebastian Chaves Gil

Approximately ten years ago, Uruguay became the first country to legalize the production and sale of marijuana, although regulations for recreational use were implemented starting in 2017. Through two changes in government, first with Tabaré Vázquez and then with Luis Lacalle Pou, the strategy initiated by former President José Mujica has remained unchanged.

Uruguayan example

Of the estimated 250,000 people who consume marijuana in Uruguay, 39% acquire it legally, according to a study by the Institute for the Regulation and Control of Cannabis (IRCCA). These individuals are registered in one of three options in the regulated market: purchasing from pharmacies, membership in cannabis clubs, or domestic cultivation. However, this approach only benefits registered users and excludes more disadvantaged sectors that do not register. This has led to the creation of a generation of young people without access to legal marijuana who turn to the black market, raising concerns about their health.

Registration is considered a critical point in the law, and some argue that the regulation is designed for a limited segment of the population. This gap between registered users and the total number of consumers has led to a “gray” market that supplies surplus marijuana production. This market involves individuals who are not necessarily traffickers, such as growers selling cannabis illegally.

A “gray” market sustains marijuana produced legally but sold illegally, even to tourists excluded from legal channels. It was argued that legalization would help combat drug trafficking, but some point out that this does not depend solely on marijuana and must be addressed in a broader regional context.

Uruguay became an exception by legalizing recreational use before medicinal and industrial uses. Cannabis regulation is based on the percentage of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), its main psychoactive component. Despite having a law in 2019, production and use for medicinal purposes remain incomplete due to bureaucratic obstacles, high licensing costs, and delays in issuance. This has affected industry development and led to a decrease in the number of operational companies.

Currently, Uruguay has maintained its marijuana legalization strategy but faces challenges related to registration, the “gray” market, and the lack of regulation for medicinal and industrial uses. Although legalization has had mixed impacts on drug trafficking, it remains a topic of debate in the region.

 



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Culture

Drink Whiskey Like A Literary Legend

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Hemmingway shared “I have drunk since I was 15, and few things have given me more pleasure.”

Whiskey is one of the things which legends are made. From the Greeks to the Irish, it has developed into an elixir delighting the taste buds and occasionally the brain. There is something adult, worldweary, and strong about holding a glass of the brown water. From early times to the Wild West, it appears again and again in stories and modern myths. It is no wonder authors have been captured by its amber hue. Here is a guide so this weekend you can drink whiskey like a literary legend.

John Steinbeck

While John Steinbeck’s favorite drink was the Jack Rose, he made an impact on the imagine of whiskey with his most famous book. The liquor makes an appearance in several of Steinbeck’s books, including his magnum opus, The Grapes of Wrath. Tom Joad drains a pint in the early chapters as he makes his way back to the family homestead. His uncle John, meanwhile, has a well-known proclivity for whiskey and “jake,” an infamous Prohibition-era patent medicine that was both mostly alcohol and known to cause nerve damage.  Times may be tough, but whiskey is always there it seems.

Related Story: Breaking Down The Major Categories Of Whiskey

Ernest Hemingway

The daring hero of the Spanish Civil War, WWII and the inventor of the Great Gatsby, Ernest Hemingway was fond of many drinks. While most people probably associate him with daiquiris or absinthe (not bad choices), he was a prodigious whiskey drinker. Supposedly his real-life drink of choice was a scotch and soda. Seems reasonable since it appears more frequently in his writing than any other—notably in The Snows of Kilimanjaro. In the autobiographical A Moveable Feast, he pounds quite a few whiskeys between rounds of smack-talk about F. Scott Fitzgerald and Gertrude Stein.

Dorothy Parker

The American poet, writer, critic, wit, and satirist helped create a moment with the Algonquin Round Table. The gathered wit and wisdom of creative leaders in the day traded barbs, insight and stories while handling a highball. While her most quoted bon mot was about vodka, scotch was her passion.  Sipping on it though the day made her feel cheerful and loose, clever remarks spun spontaneously from her lips, until everyone was falling down with laughter and she felt appreciated and loved.  Never did Dorothy appear drunk. But she was seldom completely sober either. 

Here is the vodka bon mot:

“I like to have a martini,
Two at the very most.
After three I’m under the table,
after four I’m under my host.”

Ian Fleming

Ian Fleming was a British upper crust intelligence officer who mingled with the powerful and the connected.  He went on to massive fame creating his great alter ego, Jame Bond. While Bond is know for drinking a vodka martini (shaken, not stirred), the MI6 agent has also indulged in plenty of whiskey like Fleming. Although several of the Bond films feature Talisker or Macallan, in the books, he often drank bourbon, a choice that was apparently based on Ian Fleming’s real-life preference for the American “Old Grandad” bourbon.

Related: The Perfect Ice-Cold Martini

Supposedly, Fleming switched from gin to bourbon on the advice of his doctor, who thought it might be marginally less damaging to his ailing heart.

William Faulkner

Like his contemporary, Hemingway, the southern gothic master drank constantly; unlike Hemingway, who preferred to write “cold,” Faulkner’s writing was fueled by bourbon, corn whiskey, and mint juleps. Whiskey features in his writing, too: Joe Christmas, a central character in his 1932 novel Light in August, is a bootlegger in the Prohibition-era south.

So next time you feel thirsty, here is how to drink whiskey like a literary legend.

 



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Germany

Prost! Germany legalizes cannabis. Here’s the inside scoop

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Move over, Oktoberfest!

On February 23, Germany’s parliament voted to legalize both cannabis possession and social consumption lounges. Once the country’s Federal Council signs off on the law, Germany will become the largest country in Europe to legalize cannabis.

Germany’s new policy is complex, and full of nuance and caveats. Got questions? We’ve got answers.

Earlier today, Leafly Senior Editor David Downs hopped on IG live with Alex Rogers, owner and CEO of the International Cannabis Business Conference (ICBC), to get the inside scoop. Listen / watch the conversation below to learn more about the timeline for the rollout, possession limits, why Rogers thinks social clubs are the “most controversial aspect” of the program and more.

Looking for the TL;DR version? Here are a few highlights from Germany’s plan for legalization.

  • Decriminalization will go into effect quickly, on April 1. Adults will then be able to legally possess up to 25 grams of cannabis on their person in public (that’s just over 3/4 ounce). They will also be able to legally possess up to 50 grams at home.
  • Homegrow is in! As of April 1, adults can grow up to three plants at home. To be clear: that’s the limit per adult, not per household.
  • Germany will attempt a social club model. These clubs will be able to grow and sell marijuana.
  • Rogers expects legalization to be a boon for the country’s medical marijuana industry as well. He believes it could grow by 400% in the next two years.

We’ll have more from on the ground in Barcelona, Spain next month during ICBC’s March 14 event. Rogers brings ICBC to Berlin April 16-17.





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Cannabis

Should You Use Cannabis Instead Of Ice For Injuries

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The old go to for a strain or injury is ice or cold compress. Pulling a bag of frozen peas from the fridge is a go to and provides some relief. It’s usually most effective shortly after the injury  This involves an ice pack or ice compress placed on the affected area, designed to reduce inflammation and numb out any pain while reducing swelling. Exposure to the cold has been known to decrease circulation and constrict the blood vessels.

RELATED: Science Says Medical Marijuana Improves Quality Of Life

But maybe you should open your mindset. Should you use cannabis instead of ice for injuries? Or maybe additionally? Cannabidiol (CBD), the non-psychoactive component of marijuana, may be more effective (and practical) for treating sprains and injuries. CBD is can be convenient since you can carry topicals for spot treatment as well as oral CBD products for when you have an accident. It also has the added benefit of being free from THC, which is an advantage for athletes.

inflammation chronic pain
Photo by peterschreiber.media/Getty Images

Sports injuries can also happen when running or jumping on hard surfaces, wearing improper shoes, doing the wrong exercise techniques, poor flexibility, old injuries, or doing the same sport all year round among others.  Add in activities like running, skiing, snowboarding and more, you have a recipes for at least one muscle issue.

RELATED: Cannabis And Inflammation — What’s The Connection?

A sprain or injury is a major inconvenience every time it happens. Whether you are an athlete or not, recovery and healing as soon as possible is critical, not to mention painful. Using topical CBD for pain relief and for fighting inflammation is a better option because it activates the endocannabinoid receptors in the affected area to help control stiffness and pain. In addition, CBD interacts with the CB1 and CB2 receptors that can reduce the inflammation and pain caused by irritations and sports injuries.

Photo by Colin Lloyd via Unsplash

RELATED: Is Cannabis Better For Sports Injuries Than Traditional Painkillers?

“Sports injuries most often involve either significant inflammation response or mild micro-traumas,” Dr. Andrew Kerklaan of Dr. Kerklaan Therapeutics shared. “Because of CBD’s anti-inflammatory potential, it may be useful in a myriad of symptoms — from mild everyday aches and pains to minor injuries.” He also explains that CBD can help individuals recover from common injuries caused by exercise. “These will all trigger inflammatory responses and therefore CBD may have potential to help in the recovery process,” he says.

There are dozens of studies too, which tout the analgesic benefits of  cananbis and CBD. One study revealed CBD is beneficial for chronic pain while improving inflammation and sleep. In a another published in the journal Frontiers in Neurology, researchers discovered that CBD was effective in treating inflammation, reducing pain, and improving mobility in individuals with multiple sclerosis. “It is anti-inflammatory, antioxidative, antiemetic, antipsychotic, and neuroprotective,” wrote the study authors.

Topical products act faster than edibles. However, for those in serious pain, tinctures and sublingual drops are recommended since they are the quickest of all consumption methods.



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