Cannabis clubs in Uruguay

The challenges of regulation
Rosario Queiroloa, Maria Fernanda Boidib & José Miguel Cruz
International Journal of Drug Policy
Volume 34, August 2016, Pages 41–48

publicationThe Uruguayan Cannabis Clubs (UCCs) constitute one of three ways to obtain cannabis under the new cannabis regulation laws. These organizations, formed by up to 45 adults and with a legal limit to grow up to 99 plants, appear to provide a safe method of procuring cannabis in a country that is trying to regulate aspects of cannabis production and distribution. This article describes the operations of the UCCs and the challenges these organizations face.

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The paper draws on data from in-depth interviews conducted with representatives of UCCs and conversations with government officials conducted between March and August of 2015. We collected information about membership, facilities and forms of organization, methods of cannabis cultivation and distribution, and activities within the community.


This article describes how UCCs are formed, their resources, rules for cannabis production and distribution; and their relationships with government institutions and the community. Data show that UCCs face four main challenges: compliance with the extant regulation, financial sustainability, tolerance from the community, and collective action dilemmas.


Organizational challenges are as frequent in Uruguay as in other country where cannabis clubs exist, however this paper shows that in order to be sustainable, UCCs need to address issues of collective action, financial sustainability, and possible competition with cannabis distribution via pharmacies that could diminish membership. In the case of Uruguay, UCCs are part of a regulation effort, though they may not be preferred over other legal alternatives already in place.