Uruguay officially became the first country to legalize marijuana on Monday night, when President Jose Mujica quietly signed a bill passed by the legislature two weeks ago. Regulators have until April 9 to write the rules for the new distribution system, which will include sales at pharmacies (up to 40 grams a month per consumer) and joint cultivation by nonprofit cannabis clubs. But as of Tuesday, it is legal for each household to grow up to six plants and harvest up to 480 grams (a bit more than a pound) annually.
While Uruguay is the first nation-state to legalize marijuana for general use, two U.S. states, Colorado and Washington, beat it by a year. Each is larger in population and territory than the small South American country, which covers 68,000 square miles and is home to 3.3 million people. Between them Colorado and Washington cover 175,000 square miles, with a total population of about 12 million. The world's first government-licensed recreational pot stores will open next Wednesday in Colorado.