File picture: Ed Andrieski

Montevideo - State-controlled cultivation of marijuana became legal on Tuesday in Uruguay, the country's drug enforcement agency JND confirmed.

The new law also allows private persons to legally raise six cannabis plants.

Marijuana clubs with between 15 and 45 members will be able to raise up to 99 plants.

With cultivation now legal, the 2013 law will now turn to its next stage: it is set to legalise the sale of up to 40 grams of cannabis per person to registered consumers at pharmacies.

Sales are set to become legal by the end of November or early December.

The left-wing government of President Jose Mujica has said it hopes to be able to more effectively fight illegal drug cartels thanks to the new measures.

The JND has set a production goal of five tons - or around 25 percent of the annual marijuana consumption in Uruguay - at a price of around 20 pesos (80 US cents) per gram. - Sapa-dpa