DU students travel to Uruguay to learn about the cannabis culture

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MONTEVIDEO, Uruguay -- Colorado leads the way in the marijuana business with states, countries and even Universities around the world looking at our program.  A group of Denver University (DU) students traveled to Uruguay as part of an international study program to examine the country’s cannabis culture and how it compares to Colorado.

It was a surprise for the students when they saw a glimpse of a marijuana grow cultivated by the Uruguay government.   “Wow…It was a room that looked like a field of marijuana plants. I’d never seen anything like that.” said Brittany Sandage.

The cannabis class toured a tiny cultivation in the business district of Montevideo, the capital of Uruguay. The country recently legalized cannabis in an effort to stop the black market for drugs. The government plans to undercut the black market, by selling joints for less than a dollar.

“There whole goal is to provide a safe product for their citizens. They want to try to eradicate the black market if at all possible.  By undercutting the black market by 40 cents is one way to do so.” said student Sonja Ford.

Government regulated pharmacies will market marijuana for medical use not for money which is the opposite of Colorado’s legalization.  The students say many countries are considering various approaches to legalizing marijuana.

“There are some countries that are on the border who want to know more about how Uruguay is doing it and how Colorado is doing it.” said Sandage.

DU professor and attorney Bob Hoban teaches marijuana policy and reform, rules and regulation at DU. Hoban said many states and countries look to Colorado first as a model for legalization.

Hoban said, “They rely on us to see how things are going, how they can do things and how not to do things.”

On the streets in Uruguay students found residents rolling their own and counting down to the New Year when weed will be sold at regulated pharmacies.

“I saw the students right before my very eyes sort of understand there are different approaches to regulating cannabis and you can talk about it, you can look at it, it’s a real live industry.”  Hoban said.

The students attended a workshop at Universidad Cato’lica in Montevideo, attended a session of parliament and interviewed workers at the Institute for the Regulation and Control of Cannabis.

It is a changing culture not only in South America but at international study programs like the classes offered at DU. Hoban said, “I would never call myself a pioneer, but I think in a way we are all pioneers.”

DU’s school mascot is of course the Pioneers. Hoban has assisted various states and countries in writing marijuana regulation.   DU’s University College offers various courses in cannabis and other schools in the state are considering marijuana related classes.

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