NUEVA HELVECIA, Uruguay — When he was younger, the only thing that Enrique Morales knew about marijuana was that folks smoked it to get high.
Today, the former driver is a horticulturist on a cannabis plantation about 80 miles west of the Uruguayan capital of Montevideo, and he says drops of marijuana oil have been key to treating his mother’s osteoarthritis.
“My perception has now changed. It is a plant that has a lot of properties,” he said.
The company that owns the plantation, Fotmer SA, is now part of a flourishing medical cannabis industry in Uruguay.
The country got a head start on competitors in December 2013 when it became the first in the world to regulate the cannabis market from growing to purchase, a move that has attracted a wave of investment.
For Uruguayan citizens or legal residents over 18 years old, the law allows the recreational use, personal cultivation and sale in