Costa Rica just legalized medical marijuana. The new law allows it (2023)

Recreational grass is currently banned, but that could change soon.

On Tuesday, Costa Rica joins the growing list of countries allowing medical access to cannabis. The law (Dossier 21.388) also allows the production and processing of hemp plants, but does not permit or regulate recreational use. Recreational cannabis remains banned in most of Latin America, with the exception of Uruguay, which became the first country in the world to legalize adult use in 2013.

Costa Rica joins the following Latin American countries that allow medical marijuana: Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, and Peru.

Related 17 countries that could become top destinations for cannabis tourism

1.7 million touristsvisitinto the country every year, mainly from the United States and Canada. Thanks to exciting ecotourism and beautiful tropical vistas, the industry generates approximately $1.7 billion annually. Both legislators and citizens believe that being kinder to weed will boost tourism and agriculture across the country. However, the new law does not regulate whether medical marijuana card holders from other countries can possess or purchase drugs in Costa Rica. Detailed guidelines for applying to become a medical marijuana patient are expected in May.

Overcoming Presidential opposition to medical marijuana

Costa Rica's health law had a long way to go before ratification. President Carlos Alvarado vetoed an earlier version in January, citing the need for individual cultivation and consumption restrictions.

President Alvarado will step down later this year. Andboth candidatesThose looking to replace him are strong proponents of recreational cannabis. Presidential candidates José María Figueres and Rodrigo Chaves will take part in a second round on April 3rd.

A recreational bill has been introduced in the Costa Rican Congresssince April last yearand looks menacing. That may be why the incumbent president eventually approved the medical bill. After signing, he admitted that legalization "would be of great benefit to Costa Rica." Since Costa Rica doesn't allow presidents to serve consecutive four-year terms, he has no reason to lie.

President Alvarado must have been moved by the outcry over his initial resistance. The backlash included aCrying cancer patientHer online video showing how she regains her appetite and can walk again has had a wide audience across the country. But even as he opposed previous bills, the President insisted he favored a well-regulated industry.

That's what Costa Rica's new medical marijuana law allows for

  • The law covers the cultivation, harvesting, processing, storage, and transportation of medical marijuana and hemp. The Minister of Agriculture will regulate the hemp market.
  • The Minister of Health will regulate the medicinal cannabis market.
  • Costa Ricans seeking access to medicinal cannabis need a permit. The application guidelines will be available by May 2022.
  • Anyone who grows medical marijuana must register with the relevant national health authorities. They must also pass random and routine screening by the Costa Rica Drug Institute (ICD).
  • All hemp ingredients are legal for food and industrial use.
  • Hemp products must contain less than 1% THC.
  • The new law does not address the rules for tourists with a medical license from their home country. More details could be available by May.
  • Tracking systems are gradually being introduced to track products throughout the production chain, from seed to sale.
  • Home cultivation is not allowed, thanks in part to President Alvarado's veto in January. Alvarado feared drug abuse and illegal businesses. Before signing, the President insisted that all medicinal cannabis must be grown in a professional laboratory and prescribed by a doctor.
  • Breeders without a license face six to 12 years in prison if they grow or sell the plant illegally.
  • Taxes collected by the Department of Agriculture and Livestock and the Department of Health are fully reinvested in government agencies, law enforcement and compliance monitoring.
  • The license fees depend on the size and type of the company.
  • Permits for research activities are granted through the Ministry of Health, with access and conditions depending on the type of research.
  • Cultivation and commercial permits are valid for six years, but can be extended after a review period.
  • There is only one license for cultivation and one license for commercial use per inhabitant.

Read the full billhere.

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How the pandemic affected legalization in Costa Rica

The global response to COVID-19 has hit Costa Rica's tourism-dependent economy particularly hard. The industry recorded 2 million fewer international visitorsin 2020 and in 2019. While residents' quality of life was a key factor for lawmakers when considering Expediente 21,388, the potential revenue the country could generate from exports and tourism has often been highlighted as a benefit of legalization.

In 2019, Costa Rica received 3,139,008 international visitors including 1,666,571 from North America through all access routes, while in 2020 Costa Rica received 1,011,912 international visitors including 571,010 from North America.

(Video) Costa Rica Congress passes medical marijuana bill

– Costa Rica's Minister of Tourism, Gustavo Segura Sancho

With a nationwide workforce of around 211,000 people directly employed in the tourism industry and a capacity of more than three million visitors per year before the pandemic, the country is looking for ways to absorb the huge losses since 2020.

Experts estimate a 70% drop in tourism demand. According to the Central Bank of Costa Rica, national GDP fell by 4.5% in 2020, mainly due to a 40.7% drop in hotel and restaurant sales.

Costa Rica just legalized medical marijuana. The new law allows it (1)

The race to become the world's best weed destination

Procromer, Costa Rica's trade promotion and export group, wants a stake in the global cannabis market$5.7 billionAnnual sales. The group has been campaigning for legalization for years, pointing to opportunities for investment, employment and a better quality of life for citizens. They assume that the world market for cannabis will be worthwhile$35 billion a yearbis 2025.

RelatedMexico has a new law legalizing marijuana. Here's what's inside

Upon leaving office, President Alvarado continues to be outspoken about his support for industrial hemp in particular. He is confident that "it will support agricultural production and economic recovery". But he and other officials are still tired of letting the legal industry spiral out of control.

The president justified his veto in January with concerns that growing high-THC crops domestically would be difficult for authorities to legally regulate. He and others feared that home growing could lead to widespread drug abuse and offer protection to illegal producers.

Costa Rica just legalized medical marijuana. The new law allows it (2)

Zoila Rosa Volio Pacheco, the lawmaker behind the bill from the start, has assured skeptics that legalization in Costa Rica would not cause a spike in drug use nationwide. And the global data supports their claim. Studies show that countries use legalization and harm reductionperform better in preventing substance abuseas countries waging a “war on drugs”.

Costa Rican cannabis progress is in declinebis 2016,when attorney Mario Alberto Cerdas Salazar was arrested and charged with drug trafficking at his home in the city of Alajuela. He was an early proponent of the plant and publicly protested its right to grow and use medical marijuana.

(Video) VERIFY: Does TSA allow hemp-CBD products and medical marijuana?

The judicial investigative authority (OIJ-Costa Rica's FBI said they found enough cannabis on his property "to make 5,000 cigarettes," or about "170 plants." However, the OIJ was unable to prove that the cannabis was intended for sale.

Judge Carolina Leitón has delivered a historic ruling that partly formed the basis of the current push for legalization. She decided, “Yes, growing marijuana is illegal; however, it is not a crime if it is not used for sale.”

The wise Salazar wasacquitted of the allegations, the first major legal victory for Costa Rican cannabis enthusiasts. His case and the new medicine law offer hope that expanded access and adult-use bills for tourists, ticas and ticos across the country will soon become a reality.


Costa Rica just legalized medical marijuana. The new law allows it? ›

With the signing into law last year of the “Law on cannabis for medicinal and therapeutic use and on hemp for food and industrial use“, Costa Rica took its first step towards entering this enormous industry. This law regulates and allows access to, and use of, cannabis for medicinal and therapeutic use only.

Does Costa Rica allow medical marijuana? ›

In Costa Rica, accessing medical cannabis involves visiting a doctor who will provide a prescription for cannabis. This can be dispensed to patients via regular pharmacies. Tourists cannot access medical marijuana or bring it into the country, and prescriptions from other countries are not honored in Costa Rica.

Is marijuana legal in Puerto Rico 2023? ›

However, the recreational use of marijuana is still illegal in Puerto Rico, and there are strict regulations and licensing requirements for businesses involved in the medical marijuana industry.

Is Florida decriminalizing marijuana? ›

Is Marijuana Decriminalized in Florida? Beginning in 2015, some counties and municipalities across Florida have allowed for civil citations to be issued when someone is in possession of small amounts of marijuana, essentially decriminalizing weed in these areas.

Is CBD legal in Costa Rica? ›

Legal Status of CBD in Costa Rica

According to the Ministry of Health Costa Rica, CBD products can be consumed and marketed as long as they follow certain guidelines. These guidelines primarily focus on ensuring the products have a valid sanitary license from the Ministry of Health.

What countries are the most accepting of medical marijuana? ›

Best Weed-Friendly Countries for Travel in 2023
  • 1 Argentina: where Medical Marijuana is free. ...
  • 2 Chile: the highest per-capita use of cannabis in Latin America. ...
  • 3 Colombia: softies on the green stuff. ...
  • 4 Uruguay: the first country to legalize medical and recreational cannabis nationwide.

Can tourists get medical marijuana in Puerto Rico? ›

You must be a legal resident of Puerto Rico to apply for a medical marijuana card. However, out-of-state medical cards are accepted. If you're traveling to Puerto Rico on vacation and are already a medicinal use patient in another state, you can purchase with your existing, valid medical card.

Does Puerto Rico take out of state medical marijuana cards? ›

This is called medical marijuana reciprocity. Puerto Rico's medical marijuana program accepts medical cards from out-of-state patients. Visitors who would like to purchase medical cannabis can also apply for a card.

Can you buy recreational marijuana in Puerto Rico? ›

Puerto Rico has legalized medical cannabis use, but adult (recreational) use remains illegal.

Is marijuana illegal in Jamaica? ›

SALE. Despite its decriminalization for possession, the sale and supply of cannabis for recreational purposes remains prohibited in Jamaica.

Can you smoke marijuana in your backyard in Florida? ›

Yes. A patient may smoke or vape medical marijuana on private property as allowed by the property owner. The law provides that s. 381.986, F.S., does not impair the ability of a private party to restrict or limit smoking or vaping marijuana on his or her private property.

Does Florida have marijuana dispensaries for recreational use? ›

Today, many states have legalized medical cannabis and the recreational use of the plant. However, in Florida, only the medical use of cannabis is legal.

Can you go into a dispensary without a card in Florida? ›

Can I Go to a Dispensary Without a Card in Florida? No, you won't be able to go to any dispensaries in Florida without a Florida medical marijuana card.

Is it illegal to smoke in Costa Rica? ›

You can buy and smoke tobacco in Costa Rica as long as you are 18. However, there are specific places where you can smoke. The rule of thumb is that if you expose a stranger to second-hand smoke, that area may be a smoke-free place by law. So, don't expect to smoke in bars, clubs, or restaurants.

Can you bring CBD gummies to Costa Rica? ›

Costa Rica: The general consensus is that Americans can travel to Costa Rica with CBD products that contain less than 0.3 percent THC. Germany: Local law dictates that CBD products cannot contain more than 0.2 percent THC, but if you're traveling with a higher percentage, it's punishable by a fine or jail time.

Can you buy drugs over the counter in Costa Rica? ›

Pharmacies in Costa Rica operate primarily the same as they do in other places, with this notable exceptions... One thing that may shock most people is that people do not need a prescription for many drugs that you would in North America.

What state has the best medical marijuana? ›

In a comprehensive, 187-page report on the status of access for medical marijuana patients in the US, seven states received a grade of B+, the highest score given this year. California, Hawaii, Illinois, Michigan, Nevada, Ohio and Oregon were recognized as the best states for patients.

What state has the most medical marijuana patients? ›

Medical Cannabis Patient Numbers
StateState Population (2019)Patient Numbers
40 more rows

What country does not allow marijuana? ›

Download Table Data
IndonesiaIllegalBanned in 1927. Minimum sentence for possession is 4 years in prison for adults.
IranIllegal (but tolerated)Ban is not strictly enforced. Possession of more than 5g of hashish is punishable by death.
78 more rows

Can you cross the US border with medical marijuana? ›

A: All travelers are prohibited from possessing marijuana when crossing the U.S. border, or through a Preclearance port. Travelers who do not declare they are in possession of marijuana, including paraphernalia, may be subject to seizure, fines, arrest, or in the case of aliens, denial of admission into the U.S.

Can tourists get medical marijuana in Florida? ›

Tourists are not eligible to receive a Florida Medical Marijuana Card. As it is a state-issued identification card that requires the individual to be a permanent resident of the state. To be eligible for a medical marijuana card, a person must have a valid Florida ID and proof of residency.

Can you travel out of the US with medical Marijuanas? ›

Can you fly with medical marijuanas in 2022? Under the current federal regulations, you're prohibited from flying with any product containing more than 0.3% THC, regardless of where you're flying to or whether you have a medical card.

Does Florida accept out-of-state medical cards 2023? ›

No, Florida currently does not accept out-of-state medical marijuana cards. However, it does allow seasonal residents to apply for registry cards.

Can I use my Florida medical marijuana card in another state? ›

It's important to know that some states will honor a patient's out-of-state medical card, but in Florida, only Floridians can buy and possess medical marijuana. However, Floridians may use their medical marijuana card in some other states under certain guidelines.

Is Delta 8 legal in Puerto Rico? ›

Can You Buy Delta 8 in Puerto Rico? Absolutely! After the authorization of the 2018 Farm Bill, hemp became legally separated from marijuana and is defined as a cannabis plant with 0.3% or less of Delta 9 THC. As of October 21, 2021, the sale, distribution, and production of hemp products are federally legal.

Is Delta 9 legal in Puerto Rico? ›

Is Delta 9 Legal in Puerto Rico? This Legal Disclaimer is incorporated by reference and subject to our Terms of Service, which you agree to by using this website. Are you looking for legal hemp products near you? Prepare to be thrilled because Delta-9 is legal in Puerto Rico!

What are strange laws in Puerto Rico? ›

Studded tires – Believe it or not, there is a law in Puerto Rico that states that you are not allowed to have studded tires. It might make you wonder how many people were driving around with distracting studded tires before it was decided that a law had to be put in effect.

Is Delta legal in Puerto Rico? ›

Delta 8 is not currently legal in Puerto Rico. The Puerto Rican government does not recognize Delta 8 as a legal form of cannabis, and the sale, possession, and consumption of Delta 8 products is prohibited.

What Caribbean countries is marijuana legal? ›

4 Best 420-Friendly Vacations In The Caribbean Region
  • Jamaica. Jamaica. You may not believe this, but only within the last 5 years, cannabis possession and use were decriminalized in Jamaica. ...
  • St. Lucia. St. ...
  • US Virgin Islands. US Virgin Islands. ...
  • Puerto Rico. Puerto Rico.
Feb 27, 2023

Can I fly to Jamaica with medical marijuana? ›

People who visit Jamaica can use medical marijuana, only after been granted a permit. This permit allows tourists to purchase and carry up to two ounces of cannabis at a given time, for personal and medical purposes only.

What is Jamaica marijuana called? ›

Ganja is a Sanskrit word used to describe the flower of a plant, and it was adopted by the Rastafari culture and used as slang for cannabis.

Is marijuana legalized in Tennessee? ›

No. Cannabis, in any amount without a doctor's prescription, is technically still illegal all over Tennessee. Music City, though, has twice made efforts to decriminalize possession of small amounts.

How much can you buy at a dispensary in Florida? ›

Under the rule, patients' daily THC doses are restricted to 60 mg for edibles; 350 mg for vaporization; 200 mg for capsules and tinctures; 190 mg for sublingual tinctures; 190 mg for suppositories; and 150 mg for topicals.

Is marijuana legal in NC? ›

Marijuana currently remains illegal throughout North Carolina — though medical marijuana will soon be available on Cherokee land, in western North Carolina, and legislation being considered by the North Carolina General Assembly this session has the potential to legalize the substance for medical purposes elsewhere in ...

Can you just walk into a dispensary in Florida? ›

You simply walk into a dispensary and prove your age with a government-issued ID. But this only applies where recreational marijuana is legal. Recreational marijuana is not legal in Florida.

Are Delta 8 gummies legal in Florida? ›

As of this writing, Delta 8 THC is legal to use, possess, sell, distribute, and produce within the state of Florida.

Can you get a medical card for anxiety in Florida? ›

Floridians suffering from mental health disorders such as Bipolar Disorder, Panic Disorder, Anorexia, Opioid Use Disorder, and other disorders will qualify as medical marijuana patients. Applies only to Florida law, and does not immunize violations of federal law.

Can I bring my vape pen to Costa Rica? ›

Vaping and E-Cigarettes Also Under Regulation

It is also illegal to sell these products to minors. The rules apply to using vapes or e-cigarettes with or without nicotine. Those traveling into Costa Rica with vaping equipment are advised to carry it disassembled in a vape case in their carry-on luggage.

What is illegal to bring to Costa Rica? ›

Tourists are prohibited from bringing weapons and ammunition to Costa Rica. Citizens and legal residents are allowed to bring some types of weapons and ammunition to Costa Rica but Customs will seize these items and hold them until you have obtained a permit for your weapon.

Do a lot of people smoke in Costa Rica? ›

15.6% of total deaths in Costa Rica are attributable to tobacco smoking. This survey found that: 13.6% of men, 4.5% of women, and 9.1% overall (325.8 thousand adults) currently used tobacco.

Can drug dogs smell edibles? ›

Dan Hayter, founder of K9 Global Training Academy and a former chief of the military drug dog trainer, agrees that edibles aren't impossible to trace. "A dog can be taught to recognize marijuana mixed into flour without too much difficulty," he says.

Can gummies go through airport security? ›

Solid food items (not liquids or gels) can be transported in either your carry-on or checked bags. Liquid or gel food items larger than 3.4 oz are not allowed in carry-on bags and should be placed in your checked bags if possible.

Can I bring my prescription medication to Costa Rica? ›

Costa Rica does not allow the importation of most medications through the mail, even with a prescription. Travelers entering Costa Rica may carry personal medications with them and in suitcases, but also should carry a copy of the prescriptions.

What happens if you get caught with edibles in Costa Rica? ›

Police Enforcement in Costa Rica (Fuerza Pública) does not have a specific protocol to deal with cannabis users, nonetheless in case of possession of "small dosages" (informally considered somewhat between 1 - 8 grams) they will confiscate the drugs. In the case of a larger amount they may proceed with a formal arrest.

Are there any drug cartels in Costa Rica? ›

"We used to talk about Colombian cartels, Mexican cartels," Mata said. But now investigators have found gangs led by Costa Ricans, he said. Mata, who served as security minister from 2015 to 2018, said that Costa Rica had become an "enormous warehouse" of drugs and an operations center for exports to Europe.

Can you buy Xanax in Costa Rica? ›

You can't legally have Xanax unless it was prescribed to you. You are also required to bring the original bottles from the pharmacy. That's the official word. Is life hard in Costa Rica?

What tropical countries is marijuana legal? ›

4 Best 420-Friendly Vacations In The Caribbean Region
  • Jamaica. Jamaica. You may not believe this, but only within the last 5 years, cannabis possession and use were decriminalized in Jamaica. ...
  • St. Lucia. St. ...
  • US Virgin Islands. US Virgin Islands. ...
  • Puerto Rico. Puerto Rico.
Feb 27, 2023

Can you travel out of the country with marijuana? ›

Internationally it is a total no-no. Please don't do it! Even traveling to countries like Amsterdam – it's illegal to transport weed, and if you're caught you'll be subject to the foreign country's laws of the foreign county.

Which Caribbean island is marijuana legal? ›

Cannabis in Saint Lucia is legal, up to 30 grams. Cannabis is the only drug grown locally on Saint Lucia, and meets 20% of the local demand, with the remainder coming from the other Caribbean island, predominantly Jamaica and St Vincent, and more developed countries such as the United States.

What countries is marijuana legal 2023? ›

Top 20 Countries Where Weed Is Legal In 2023
  • Canada. With the passing of the Cannabis Act in 2018, weed in Canada became legal for medicinal and recreational use after almost a century of prohibition. ...
  • Thailand. Source: Markus Winkler/Pexels. ...
  • Argentina. ...
  • Mexico. ...
  • Belize. ...
  • Costa Rica. ...
  • Jamaica. ...
  • Colombia.

Do airports check luggage for marijuana? ›

Though TSA notes its officers do not search for marijuana or other illegal drugs, officers are required to report any item they find that may violate the law during the security screening process to local law enforcement.

Can you bring edibles on a plane 2023? ›

Flying with Edibles

Since edibles are marijuana-based products, you cannot legally take them through security and fly with them. If TSA catches you, they will report the matter to local law enforcement.

Which state has the toughest marijuana Laws? ›

Law in Florida

As one of the toughest states on marijuana possession, it hosts the harshest penalties for this drug in the entire United States. For possessing one single ounce of this drug may result in up to five years in prison and a fine of $6,000.

What was the first country to ban marijuana? ›

1928: The United Kingdom first prohibited cannabis as a drug, in accordance with the 1925 Opium Convention, adding cannabis as an addendum to the Dangerous Drugs Act 1920.

Are edibles detected by airport security? ›

Although they can detect food items, airport scanners cannot tell if they are edible. Whether the airport security staff considers the edibles to be suspicious varies. The edibles' packaging and odor could be giveaways. The edibles will appear in the scanner with the same orange color as every other organic material.

Can you take edibles into Mexico? ›

As for edibles, ointments, supplements, etc., no cannabis product that fails to qualify as medicine (medicamento) as defined by the General Health Law can be imported into Mexico.

Can drug dogs smell through vacuum sealed bags? ›

Although man's best friend tends to have a pretty incredible ability to sniff things out, dogs cannot smell though airtight, vacuum sealed containers.


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