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Costa Rica’s Cannabis Policy Points to a Profitable Future


If, like me, you dream of retreating to a beach where life is easy and the waves are always good, you probably know Costa Rica very well. The Central American country is bordered by two spectacular bodies of water: the Caribbean Sea to the east and the Pacific Ocean to the west. Nicaragua is due north, and to the south is Panama, the country connecting Central America to North America. Within its 19,710 square miles, Costa Rica has an incredible biodiversity of plants and creatures and a human population of around 5 million. It also has a very balanced gross domestic product, thanks to its stable and old democracy.

These attributes and many more reinforce Costa Rica’s excellent potential to be more than just a retirement destination for old Californian surfers.

Unconventional policies

Like other Latin American countries, Costa Rica’s Cannabis Policy was unconventional by Western standards. Although the country has not joined the global push to crack down on Illicit drugs in the 1930s and 1940s things changed in the early 1960s when the General Health Law and the Narcotics and Psychotropic Substances Law (Law 8204) were enacted. The change is linked to the country’s relations with the United Nations, in particular the influence of the international organization on drug regulations and ideologies. The general health law prohibits planting, cultivation, import / export and drug trafficking in general, while the Narcotics Act defines crimes and penalties, albeit in vague terms.

A sin that of Colombia In this case, the government of Costa Rica had an interesting relationship with the US narcotics authorities. Historically, and still to this day, several illicit drugs are trafficked along the Pacific coast, leading to a treaty between the United States and Costa Rica to initiate “joint patrols” involving the latter’s army and the US Coast Guard. The treaty allowed U.S. warships and soldiers to dock and disembark in Costa Rican ports on behalf of war on drugs.

Shortly after former President Laura Chinchilla Miranda took office in 2010, the country changed the way it approaches and controls all narcotics. Chinchilla has created a brand new position to focus on the effort: the National Anti-Drugs Commissioner, who has been charged with promoting compliance between state policies, programs, projects and regulations regarding the prevention of drug use. drug. The role also oversaw treatment programs for citizen drug addicts and the prosecution of those with illicit links to terrorism, organized crime and money laundering.

Possession laws

Costa Rica further strengthened its new tone regarding “simple and non-criminal possession of drugs” in 2010 with a circular issued by the prosecution, which explained the legal rationale why people would no longer be jailed for non-criminal possession. criminal. . While the country did not go so far as to decriminalize “recreational drugs”, as Portugal did at the same time, the circular alerted the Costa Rican people that the judicial arm of the government had changed its position. Another major milestone under President Chinchilla’s watch has been a partial reform of the narcotics law.

In recent years, Costa Rica has joined with other countries in the region in an open dialogue on the need to continue reforming current drug ideologies and strategies. Costa Rica is already taking a different stance from some other Latin American countries due to reform efforts over the past decade. Today, the ban on possessing small amounts of illicit substances for personal use is not enforced, but there is a wide debate about what is considered “small amounts”. The general consensus seems to be between one and eight grams; the amount varies depending on the agency. Authorities typically confiscate contraband and remove violators, but possession of more than a quarter ounce could result in arrest even though previous convictions for possession up to 200 grams (about seven ounces) have been overturned in recent years .

What is Costa Rica’s cannabis policy from an international perspective? The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime cited the country’s approach as an example of good practice in drug law, saying: “It is also important to highlight the reform of Article 77 of Law 8204 adopted by Costa Rica. … This reform represents good practice, not only because it includes a gender perspective, but also because it does not establish a minimum sentence for these crimes.

Future potential

In recent years, Costa Rica has seen phenomenal strides in recognizing a shift towards acceptance of cannabis, primarily due to the medicinal attributes of the substance. Cannabis research in the country is not as much red tape as it is in the United States, opening the door to what is now commonly referred to as “Bill 21.388”.

The Costa Rican Legislature approved the legalization of medical cannabis in October 2021. Conservatives, including President Carlos Alvarado Quesada, opposed the legislation, fearing it could open the door to recreational legalization. Nonetheless, Alvarado signed the bill in November, establishing a basis for economic opportunity.

Several US companies have worked with the Department of Agriculture to prepare the framework for a legal medical market, which could prove beneficial to early North American entrants with experience in cultivation, extraction and manufacturing. Companies from other Latin American countries started exporting extracts and dried flowers to Germany in 2019, with the European market poised to become a major consumer of medicinal cannabis products, the possibilities are almost limitless.


Lance C. Lambert spent years cultivating brands and telling stories, primarily in the mainstream digital media and marketing space before making the leap to the legal cannabis industry at the end of 2013. In 2021, it crashed his knowledge and his passion above all at GreenBroz, where he is responsible for developing the company’s presence in his country and in emerging markets around the world.





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