The two companies authorized to grow marijuana in Uruguay have started production of the crop, the Web site reported.

ICCorp and Simbiosys "are already working in the fields of the Cannabis Regulation and Control Institute, or IRCCA, to produce and distribute marijuana," said.

Technicians and experts spent a week preparing the fields, which are in the southwestern province of San Jose, to grow cannabis, the Web site said.

The sale and purchase of marijuana was legalized in 2013 by the administration of former President Jose Mujica, who was in office from 2010 to 2015.

The government expects that regulated marijuana produced in Uruguay will be available for sale at pharmacies by mid-2016.

Both consumers and stores selling legal marijuana - priced at about $1.20 per gram - will be required to be listed in a national registry.

ICCorp and Simbiosys are authorized to produce up to two tons of marijuana each annually for recreational use.

The license to produce therapeutic marijuana has still not be put out for bidding.

Pharmacies will be allowed to keep 30 percent of the profit from cannabis sales, with the rest of the profits going to ICCorp and Simbiosys.

The IRCCA will get a cut of the companies' profits.

Individuals will be allowed to purchase up to 40 grams of cannabis per month and 10 grams weekly. EFE