This week Costa Rica has taken a step towards cannabis legalization! But is weed now really legal in Costa Rica? Is it really decriminalized, and what was the status of cannabis before this vote?
Project 21.388, -the Law on Cannabis for medicinal and therapeutic use and Hemp for food and industrial use- has finally been approved. And this is a good step towards both decriminalization and legalization. So what is this bill really about?
The 21.388 project (in Spanish) was approved on its first vote ever. That says a lot about the will for Costa Rica to legally regulate their approaches towards cannabis. It is still a proposal and it needs to go through several other votes to become fact, but it is a big step forward. This project in a nutshell:
Under the 21.388 project, medical marijuana will be made available for the citizens of Costa Rica. Investments will be made for research on cannabis-based drugs. Countries like the US, Canada, Uruguay, Luxembourg, Mexico or Morocco contribute expanding the research done on therapeutic cannabis. Costa Rica might join them very soon.
This proposal regulates hemp production. As long as there is no THC content, hemp crops, products and derivates will be legal in Costa Rica. The boost that the introduction of hemp can give to the country is not to be underestimated. Hemp is a multi-purpose crop that covers many of the needs of an industrialized country, from bio-plastics to fuel, construction materials or textiles.
If you ever travelled to Costa Rica you probably felt like cannabis was pretty much normalized, to say the least. Marijuana is easy to find in Costa Rica and there is a pretty much relaxed attitude towards cannabis use by law enforcement. However, it is far from legal. Article 58 of the Law on Narcotic Drugs states that unauthorized cannabis distribution, trade, supply, manufacture or cultivation could represent 8 to 15 years of prison.
So medical marijuana is being regulated but recreational marijuana is not legal in Costa Rica. Recreational marijuana is kind of decriminalized as consumption and possession are not really prosecuted.
This bill if finally approved could mean an economic boost for Costa Rica. Jobs would be generated in rural areas. On the other hand, PROCOMER, the Costa Rican agency for promoting exports has made a worldwide calculation of the economic benefits (in Spanish) of exporting hemp and CBD products, reaching to the following numbers (2020):
PROCOMER calculations reach a global market of 5.7$ billion and it advocates for the implementation of a regulated exporting cannabis industry in Costa Rica.
The approval of this proposal would definitely help towards cannabis legalization and that is some good news we always like to give. We will keep you posted!