Currently, hot topics of conversation include the continued implementation of Uruguay's groundbreaking marijuana law, the revitalization of the Ciudad Vieja and the bright future prospects of Uruguay's national football team.
Uruguay's move toward legalized marijuana, first authorized in 2013, cleared another hurdle in 2017 as government-approved pharmacies began selling pot to Uruguayan citizens. In mid-July, 16 pharmacies provided over 5000 registered users with their first legally approved dose of 10g of government greenhouse-grown weed (total price tag? UR$187, or about US$6.50, per person). All went smoothly on the local level; however, an international wrinkle emerged when US banks, citing concerns about the drug trade, threatened sanctions against any Uruguayan bank who did business with the participating pharmacies. As a result, the pharmacies and their marijuana-loving customers have been obliged to conduct all business in cash until further notice.
Montevideo's Ciudad Vieja has seen a surge of revitalization in the past two years as municipal-government efforts to eliminate petty crime in the neighborhood have begun to bear fruit. Several new restaurants and hotels have moved in, and businesses are keeping longer hours as concerns about security have waned. This has all translated into an uptick in tourism to Montevideo's historic center.
Meanwhile, Uruguayan soccer fans are jazzed at the thought that their beloved 'Celeste' will be making a return trip to the World Cup in 2018, having placed second behind Brazil in the 2017 South American qualifying rounds. Contributing to local fans' optimism is the team's emerging crop of young new players, including 19-year-old Federico Valverde and 20-year-old Rodrigo Bentancur, both of whom seem poised to continue making an impact at 2022's Qatar World Cup and well beyond.