Pubdate: Sat, 29 Mar 2014
Source: Virgin Islands Daily News, The (VI)
Copyright: 2014 The Associated Press
Author: Leonardo Haberkorn, The Associated Press


MONTEVIDEO, Uruguay (AP) - Uruguay's drug czar says every legal 
marijuana plant in Uruguay will be registered and tracked using radio 
frequency tags and genetic markers to make sure what's grown here, stays here.

That's a much tougher tracking system than those imposed in Colorado 
and Washington, which recently legalized marijuana use. Unlike those 
U.S. states, Uruguay wants authorities to be able to test the pot in 
any drug user's possession to determine if it came from a registered, 
legal source.

Colorado and Washington also are trying to tag plants grown legally. 
But neither state plans to track the pot once sold. The states allow 
adults over 21 to possess up to 1 ounce, with no requirement for them 
to prove they got it from a legal source. Police in both states have 
no standard way of knowing where the product came from or how a user got it.

The rules for Uruguay's official marijuana market will be published 
next month, but the first government-grown plants won't be ready 
until the end of the year, National Drug Commission President Julio 
Calzada said in an interview with The Associated Press. It will take 
that long to harvest genetically identical pot from cloned plants 
whose product can be identified as legal by the authorities.

Uruguay will use radio-frequency tags to track plants and products, 
similar to the Marijuana Inventory Tracking System Colorado began 
using on Jan. 1 for commercially grown weed. Calzada says Uruguay 
uses the same technology to track beef from field to store shelves.

Colorado's system calls for each commercial marijuana seedling to get 
a tag when it reaches 8 inches, or gets replanted in a pot at least 2 
inches wide. The tags emit a high-frequency radio signal with unique 
information that can be verified using an electronic reader from 
several meters away. The tags also have scannable bar codes and other 
identifying information.

Washington state has a different tracking system that promises to 
follow its commercial marijuana from seed to sale, but there's no way 
to test a user's marijuana to see where it came from.

Neither state is going as far as Uruguay in attempting to police pot 
use. For example, Colorado allows adults to grow their own pot at 
home, with no requirements to tag or register those plants, or vouch 
for where they came from, and adults are free to give away any pot 
they grow. While Colorado's entire "seed-to-sale" tracking system 
provides some potential for tight regulation, there's no way to fully 
ensure state-sanctioned marijuana isn't bleeding into the black market.

Uruguay, on the other hand, is designing a registration and licensing 
system so complete that authorities hope not only to defeat illegal 
marijuana trafficking, but also to monitor drug users closely enough 
they can get abusers into treatment and gradually decrease consumption.
- ---
MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom