Will Uruguay’s nationalized pot industry work?

pot cultivation hbtv hemp beach tvWith the tiny Latin American country of Uruguay poised to become the first country on earth to regulate the cultivation and distribution of marijuana, legislators here are turning their minds to how to make the country’s grand experiment actually work.

As the conversation shifts from philosophical to practical, sticky business questions are arising: How do you set the price for a commodity that to date has only been available on the down-low? Should adults be allowed to provide pot to minors in their care? And, to some, the most terrifying question of all: What happens if there’s a reefer famine that affects production?

Interviews with top officials in the ruling Broad Front coalition and with foot soldiers of the grassroots campaign for legalization offered limited answers to these questions.

More often, the powers that be breeze past the most difficult questions. “The answers will come,” the nation’s drug czar, Julio Calzada, told GlobalPost. Still, the bill faces an easy run through Uruguay’s senate this fall. “We’re working out the details,” said the legislator, who co-authored the legalization bill.

It’s perhaps fair enough that lawmakers can’t provide precise answers. Uruguay is launching a progressive drug policy experiment that is unparalleled in its breadth, and it will be months, perhaps years, before residents here discover how the government’s pot plan has panned out.

We’ve identified some of the most important questions facing Uruguay’s government as it embarks on this ambitious project, and the possible answers.

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