Uruguay has taken more steps toward the launching of its regulated marijuana market by selecting growers and signing a decree on medicinal cannabis.

Republica reported on February 5 that the Institute for the Regulation and Control of Cannabis (IRCCA) had chosen five companies -- two foreign, three domestic -- to cultivate marijuana on state land, marking an important move in the final phases of implementing the distribution of recreational cannabis.

The selection means sales should begin in the not too distant future, with some optimistic reports believing retail could start in April. However, June seems a more likely month based on the planting and cultivation cycle of cannabis, and the time it will take to properly pack and prepare the drug for sale in pharmacies on what will be the first go round. 

In a separate move, President José Mujica signed a decree (see the full text here, in Spanish) that will regulate the sale and use of medical marijuana. Under the framework, medical cannabis will be sold in pharmacies but can only be bought by people over the age of 18 years who have been issued with official cards. As with recreational marijuana, no advertising will be permitted. 

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