MONTEVIDEO, Uruguay (AP) — To hear Juan Vaz tell it, a successful marijuana club in Uruguay is akin to a five-star restaurant.
"Today, we have to whet the palates of club members," said Vaz, the technical adviser of Club Canabico Sativa in Montevideo, the small South American country's capital. "We have to introduce them to the world of gourmet cannabis, which is the differentiator in our club."
Uruguay legalized the drug in 2013, and over the last year has steadily implemented various aspects of the law. Late last year, the government began registering growers clubs, which are allowed to cultivate up to 99 plants and can have a maximum of 45 members.
The clubs, which are sprouting up in Montevideo, often include giant greenhouses where members can grow plants to their liking and, of course, smoke a joint or two to test a harvest. Members can receive up to 1.4 ounces (40 grams) per month.
While the law has brought many smokers out in the open, the clubs do have several strict regulations. For example, it's illegal to be a club member and home grower at the same time or join more than one club.
Joining Canabico Sativa requires a $400 enrollment fee and then monthly payments of $92. Much of that goes to maintaining the equipment needed to grow top quality weed. The club has dehumidifiers, fans, air conditioning units and carbon filters, all to nurture every step of the plants' development.
Joaquin Fonseca, president of Canabico Sativa, said after each harvest members decide which variety produced the best buds.
"We have very high quality here," he said. "And I'm happy because I get to smoke it."
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