Can You Use Medical Cannabis In Costa Rica?

In March 2022, Costa Rica’s Congress approved a law allowing the production and sale of cannabis for medicinal and industrial uses, even for use as a food additive.

Marijuana use, possession and cultivation for recreational purposes will remain illegal.

Can You Use Medical Cannabis In Costa Rica

Many countries in Latin America have legalized medical cannabis, including Chile, Colombia, Paraguay, and Peru.

Regardless, it remains illegal to smoke recreational marijuana in most countries in South America, with Uruguay being the only one where it is legal to smoke marijuana recreationally.

What Does The New Bill Include?

  • Medical cannabis laws cover cultivation, harvest, processing, storage, transportation, and distribution of medical cannabis and hemp.
  • Recreational cannabis remains with regard to possession and cultivation illegal.
  • Hemp products are completely legal for both food and industrial uses.
  • If you’re looking for medical marijuana in Costa Rica, you’ll first have to get a permit.
  • Medical marijuana growers must be registered with the relevant national health institutions. They must also be inspected randomly and routinely by the Costa Rican Drug Institute (ICD).
  • Hemp products must contain less than 1 percent THC.
  • The new law doesn’t address any requirements for foreign nationals who hold medical licenses from their home country. Although, details of this are due to be released in the future.
  • Traceability systems will be gradually introduced to trace the product through its entire lifecycle, from seed to sale, to limit criminality of the product.
  • You cannot grow marijuana at home. All medical marijuana must be grown in a professional lab and be prescribed by a physician.
  • If you’re caught growing cannabis without a license, you could be sentenced to up to 12 years in prison.
  • All tax revenues generated from the sale of medical cannabis will be used for the benefit of the country’s public health system, law enforcement, and regulatory oversight.
  • Licensing costs will vary depending on the size and type of business.
  • Research permits will be issued by the Ministry of Health, and access and conditions will be decided according to the type of research.
  • One license for cultivation and one license for business per person.
  • To grow legal marijuana, you must obtain a new state-issued cultivator’s permit every six years.

Reasons Why It May Have Been Legalized For Medical Use?

Costa Rica has now become one of the Latin American countries that allows medical cannabis. Others include Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay and Peru.

As well as the medical and therapeutic benefits, it is difficult to ignore the economic impact of COVID-19 that has been especially severe for Costa Rica’s largely tourism-dependent economy.

The travel and tourism sector saw 2 million fewer international tourists in 2020 than 2019.

While quality of life was a major concern for legislators who were debating whether to legalize marijuana (Check out this group Smart Approaches To Marijuana), they often emphasized the economic benefits of legalizing medical cannabis.

Procromer, Costa Rica’s export promotion and marketing agency, is seeking a piece of the global marijuana industry’s $5 billion annual sales.

They’ve been pushing for legalization for years, saying they’d be able to invest, create jobs, and improve the lives of their constituents. They predict the global cannabis market will reach $35 billion annually by 2025.

Reasons Why It May Have Been Legalized For Medical Use?

Experts predict a 70 percent decline in tourists visiting the country.

According to the Central bank of Costa Rica’s data for 2020, the country’s gross domestic product dropped by 4.5%, mainly due to a 40.7 percent decline in hotel and restaurant revenues.

Whilst medical cannabis is not recreational cannabis and therefore will not be available to tourists, this is an important indicator towards the legalization of recreational cannabis, as this traditionally is the first step toward liberalizing cannabis use in a country or state.

Recreational Use

Costa Rica’s new government has announced their intentions to introduce recreational marijuana legislation to the Legislative Assembly, and separate regulations governing the cultivation, production, distribution, sale, and consumption of medical marijuana and industrial hemp.

The move to legalize medical cannabis, can often be seen as the first step in the process of the recreational legalization of cannabis, this theory can be seen, for example, in states of the United States of America, and in countries such as Portugal, Uruguay and Canada.

Medical Benefits

Cannabinoids which are the active components in marijuana are effective at reducing chronic back, neck, and joint pains.

There is evidence suggesting that oral cannabinoid medications are effective for treating nausea and vomiting caused by cancer treatments, and there is some preliminary research indicating that smoking marijuana might be helpful too.

Studies on cancer cell lines show that certain cannabinoids may slow down their growth or even kill them.

Early studies that tested this hypothesis found that although cannabis is a safe treatment, it is not effective enough at treating cancer.

Risks To Health

It has been suggested that daily cannabis consumption may worsen existing mood disorders among people who already suffer from these conditions.

Among healthy individuals without a history of bipolar disorder, however, there is only limited scientific evidence suggesting a connection between marijuana use and the development of bipolar and other mood disorders.

What they do know, is that cannabis seems to affect people differently, dependent on the person.

Smoking cannabis can also increase chances of respiratory disease, especially as this is often smoked with tobacco.

Final Thoughts

Medical cannabis is now legal in Costa Rica, this is partly due to the medical benefits consuming medical cannabis can bring, but also because of the large economic hit the country took prior to Covid-19.

Officials in Costa Rica see the legalization of medical cannabis as the first step to legalizing recreational consumption, cultivation and possession in the country, to ultimately increase levels of tourism and therefore the flow of capital in and out of Costa Rica.

Josh Barton
Latest posts by Josh Barton (see all)