Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs

Uruguay is not a major narcotics producing country and has low levels of drug-related corruption. However, foreign drug traffickers take advantage of its porous borders with Argentina and Brazil, as well as Montevideo’s busy international container port, to use Uruguay as a base for logistics and transit operations. Andean-produced cocaine is the primary drug trafficked through Uruguay. Local consumption of the highly addictive and inexpensive cocaine base product, known as “pasta base,” remains a serious problem. The Uruguayan government passed legislation in December 2013 that regulates the legal sale and distribution of marijuana. The law allows each household to grow up to six marijuana plants and allows registered individuals to buy up to 40 grams per person per month at pharmacies. However, implementation of the legislation continued to lag through 2015. In October, the government announced it will license two companies to grow up to two metric tons of cannabis per year on state-owned land. These companies announced plans to have cannabis ready to sell in mid-2016.

Uruguay’s demand reduction strategy focuses on prevention, rehabilitation, and treatment, with particular attention to reducing demand for “pasta base.” The National Drug Rehabilitation Center trains health care professionals and sponsors teacher training, public outreach, and other programs. The National Anti-Drug Secretariat trains educators to run an anti-drug program for adolescents, and the interagency treatment and prevention program “Portal Amarillo” assists those with substance use disorders seeking help. With U.S. support, the Organization of American States’ Inter-American Drug Abuse Control Commission provides technical support to the government’s drug treatment and prevention systems, including training for personnel and support to treatment facilities.

The National Drug Police continued to implement Uruguay’s 2011-2015 National Plan against Drug Trafficking and Money Laundering, which focuses on coordinating interagency efforts to combat drug-related illicit activities. In 2015, the Government of Uruguay seized 137 kilograms (kg) of cocaine, 74 kg of “pasta base,” and 2.65 metric tons of marijuana. U.S. assistance included operational support and training to different Uruguayan agencies on narcotics investigations. The United States and Uruguay are parties to a bilateral extradition treaty entered into force in 1984, a mutual legal assistance treaty entered into force in 1994, and a letter of agreement through which the United States is able to support counternarcotics and law enforcement programs in Uruguay.