Current topics of conversation in Uruguay include the continued implementation of the country's groundbreaking marijuana law, the revitalization of Montevideo's Ciudad Vieja and the bright future prospects of Uruguay's national soccer team.
Uruguay's move toward legalized marijuana, first authorized in 2013, cleared its first major hurdle in mid-July 2017 as government-approved pharmacies began selling pot to Uruguayan citizens. Some 16 pharmacies provided over 5000 registered users with their first legally approved weekly dose of 10g of government greenhouse-grown weed (the initial price tag for each 5g bag was UR$187, or about US$6.50). By July 2018, the number of registered pharmacy buyers had quintupled, to over 25,000. Meanwhile, thousands more Uruguayans have opted for one of the other two legal channels for obtaining marijuana: growing their own (a maximum of six plants per person) or joining a club (each club needs at least 15 members and is allowed to grow up to 99 plants). Despite the boom in domestic consumption, Uruguay's government has so far steadfastly opposed any plan that would allow foreign tourists to purchase cannabis.
Montevideo's Ciudad Vieja has seen a surge of revitalization in recent 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 about the recent success of their beloved 'Celeste,' which made it to the quarterfinals of the 2018 World Cup, losing only to eventual champion France. The team's emerging crop of stars includes 20-something players like Rodrigo Bentancur, José María Giménez and Giorgian De Arrascaeta, who seem poised to continue making an impact at 2022's Qatar World Cup and well beyond.