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Uruguay's first marijuana club seeks recognition

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Photo - FILE - In this Dec. 9, 2013 file photo, marijuana grower Marcelo Vazquez checks the leaves of his plants for fungus, on the outskirts of Montevideo, Uruguay. A marijuana growing club is taking steps to be the first officially recognized in Uruguay, where lawmakers have made their country the world's first national marketplace for legal pot. The Association of Cannabis Studies of Uruguay began the process by registering with the Education and Culture ministry, Drug Control Chief Julio Calzada said on Tuesday, June 24, 2014. (AP Photo/Matilde Campodonico, File)
FILE - In this Dec. 9, 2013 file photo, marijuana grower Marcelo Vazquez checks the leaves of his plants for fungus, on the outskirts of Montevideo, Uruguay. A marijuana growing club is taking steps to be the first officially recognized in Uruguay, where lawmakers have made their country the world's first national marketplace for legal pot. The Association of Cannabis Studies of Uruguay began the process by registering with the Education and Culture ministry, Drug Control Chief Julio Calzada said on Tuesday, June 24, 2014. (AP Photo/Matilde Campodonico, File)
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MONTEVIDEO, Uruguay (AP) — A group has taken steps to become the first officially recognized marijuana-growing club in Uruguay, where lawmakers have made their country the world's first national marketplace for legal pot.

The Association of Cannabis Studies of Uruguay began the process by registering with the Education and Culture Ministry, Drug Control Chief Julio Calzada said Tuesday.

The club will have 40 members and will be headed by Laura Blanco. She told the Uruguayan newspaper El Pais that members will pay $300 each to join, and a monthly fee of up to $65. Some of the members will use the marijuana to treat medical conditions.

Lawmakers in December approved Uruguay's experiment with marijuana, giving the government the power to oversee production, sales and consumption of a drug illegal almost everywhere else.

Joining a growing club is one of three legal ways to obtain pot under the law.

Licensed buyers will be able to purchase up to 10 grams a week or 40 grams a month from a network of pharmacies that is expected to be functioning by late 2014 or early 2015.

Uruguayan citizens and legal residents 18 or older can also register to obtain licenses giving them the right to cultivate up to six marijuana plants per household and harvest 480 grams a year, or join a marijuana-growing club with between 15 and 45 members and no more than 99 plants.

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