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How Much Is Uruguay’s Legal Cannabis Industry Worth?

Uruguay will forever hold the title as being the first country to ever adopt a national adult use cannabis legalization measure. Lawmakers in Uruguay legalized cannabis in 2013, with the first adult-use cannabis sales occurring through the nation’s pharmacies in 2017.

The legalization model that Uruguay has implemented is still unique in many ways all of these years later. Cannabis can be legally sourced by cultivating it at home, through one of the nation’s social clubs, or through pharmacies. Products sold at pharmacies are limited to just a few varieties with set cannabinoid levels, and only registered residents can make legal purchases.

In the first six years of legal cannabis sales, Uruguay’s pharmacies sold 10.7 million grams of cannabis according to original reporting by Forbes. Uruguay’s legal adult-use market also experienced the following in the first six years of operation:

  • 61,509 individuals registered to purchase from pharmacies
  • 37 pharmacies registered to sell cannabis
  • 14,592 registered domestic cultivators
  • 306 cannabis clubs supporting 10,486 members

Statista lists the following for Uruguay’s cannabis industry:

  • Uruguay’s Cannabis market is forecasted to achieve a revenue of US$135.50m in 2024.
  • The market is anticipated to demonstrate a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR 2024-2029) of 3.12%, leading to a market volume of US$158.00m by 2029.

“Uruguay has approximately 260,000 adult users that obtain cannabis through different channels. According to IRCCA between 30%-35% of them regularly purchase cannabis through pharmacies (48,000), home cultivation (13,000), and clubs (7,000 users) distributed in 200+ clubs). Although the remaining 190,000 users still obtain cannabis in the mostly domestic grey market, the regulated market exhibited a 27% growth rate between 2021 and 2022.” New Frontier Data states about Uruguay’s cannabis market.

According to an analysis by New Frontier Data, cannabis consumers around the globe “spent an estimated $415 billion on high-THC cannabis in 2020” and that figure is expected to increase to to $496 billion by 2025.

“Much of the world has not yet legalized cannabis, and nearly all the demand resides in illicit or unregulated markets. In 2020, 94% of high-THC cannabis spend was in unregulated channels.” New Frontier Data states.

New Frontier Data has determined that sales of high-THC cannabis products through legal regulated outlets totaled $23.7 billion in 2020 and that legal sales are projected to reach $51 billion by 2025. New Frontier Data estimates that legal cannabis sales of adult-use cannabis “are projected to be double those of legal medical sales by 2025, despite the higher number of medical markets globally.”