Sensi: Uruguay and the American Banks

Leland Rucker, senior editor at Sensi Magazine takes a look at Uruguay, the first country to legalize recreational cannabis, which is now facing the prospect of American banks pulling out of the country.

“They legalized it back in 2013 but they just started recreational sales last month. The government sells the marijuana…through pharmacies.”

People can buy up to 40 grams a month at $1.30 a gram. Under the law only Uruguayan citizens or legal permanent residents are allowed to buy or grow marijuana.

Last week Bank of America said they would stop doing business with any bank in Uruguay that provides services for state controlled sales for cannabis.

President Tabaré Vázquez of Uruguay said that he’s trying to do something about the bank situation but he said the country can’t have false hopes.

Rucker says that the issue is the Patriot Act. “After the attacks on September 11th 2001, it is unlawful for American financial institutions to do business with dealers of certain controlled substances and marijuana is one of them. They were designed to curb money laundering and drug trafficking, but if you really look at it this is really going to encourage drug trafficking. One of the main things the country was trying to do was get rid of the black market and here we have now American banks refusing to do something that probably will send people back to the black market again.”


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