<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en-gb"><p>Uruguay's experiment with commercial production of marijuana faces risk after election: <a href="https://*.co/ubdgcW0qzA">https://*.co/ubdgcW0qzA</a> <a href="https://*.co/1UMfilhQgV">pic.twitter.com/1UMfilhQgV</a></p>— Reuters Top News (@Reuters) <a href="https://twitter.com/Reuters/status/524244936087322624">October 20, 2014</a></blockquote>
Uruguay is struggling to roll out the commercial production and sale of marijuana and its ground-breaking experiment could be dropped or watered down if an opposition candidate wins this month's presidential election.
The South American country is the world's first to permit the cultivation, distribution and use of marijuana, aiming to wrest control of the trade from drug gangs while at the same regulating and even taxing its consumption.
The reform is being followed closely across Latin America where the legalization or decriminalization of some narcotics is increasingly viewed as a better way to end the violence spawned by drug trafficking than the U.S.-led "war on drugs".
But first Uruguay needs to work out how to ensure criminal gangs do not finance producers, how to regulate the supply and quality of locally produced marijuana, and how to satisfy neighboring states that legally grown dope will not be sold illegally on their streets.
The government has missed its own deadlines in implementing the changes that were passed into law last December.
"We've been working on this since the very beginning, since the first day. But I just don't know if we'll manage it " said one government source familiar with the legalization program.
Sebastian Sabini, a lawmaker of the ruling coalition who put forward the law, said its implementation required the creation of institutions that existed nowhere else.
The plan to start selling marijuana in pharmacies late this year looks unlikely as the government is still tendering cultivation licenses and identifying where seeds can be purchased from.
Given the delays, leftist President Jose Mujica now faces a race against time to push through the changes before the country's next leader takes office in March.
Voters go to the polls to elect a new president on Oct 26.