Costa Rica Moves to Legalize Medical Marijuana

costa rica

While many marijuana advocates were hoping for further action Costa Rica did finally legalize medical marijuana this week.

A bill legalizing medical marijuana was passed on Tuesday. On Wednesday President Carlos Alvarado quickly signed the bill into law. This comes after Alvarado vetoed a similar bill earlier in the year. Lawmakers revisited the bill based on feedback from President Alvarado and then sent the bill back to him with requested changes having been made. The main issues at hand were limits being placed on individual cultivation and consumption.

There are some who were hoping to see recreational marijuana legalized. But supporters of the medical marijuana bill see this new legislation as a major win on many levels. Not only do they believe it can help with health issues, but could also create more jobs and help to provide a boost to the agricultural sector in Costa Rica.

There Will Likely Be More To Come

The new law is not surprising to most. Many surrounding countries have already passed laws legalizing marijuana in some form or another. Uruguay has actually become the first country in the world to fully legalize marijuana, including its production and consumption.

Some believe that Costa Rica may actually not be far behind in that regard. President Alvarado’s term is quickly coming to an end. Both of the candidates vying for the presidency have publicly shown support for recreational marijuana in Costa Rica. There are some who believe Costa Rica may soon be looking at full legalization of marijuana as well.

Why the Big Push for Legalization

It is believed that the legalization of medical and recreational marijuana is being fueled by ex-pats and tourism. Prior to this new law taking effect, cannabis was all but decriminalized in Costa Rica anyways. There were no criminal penalties in place for personal consumption of marijuana. 

Tourism is a big industry for the country of Costa Rica. Before Covid Costa Rica was seeing an average of about 1.7 million tourists per year. It is the most important source of foreign currency and added around $1.7 billion per year to the country’s economy.  A push towards recreational marijuana legalization is thought to be an attractant for additional tourism revenue

What Comes Next

The current president, President Alvarado, is finishing up his term. With both of the new candidates already expressing their support for recreational marijuana, it seems like it’s only a matter of time. 

It will be interesting to see how quickly Costa Rica moves on legalizing recreational marijuana. With other countries in the region moving in that direction it seems as though they may move rather quickly. Or they may be conservative and see how things play out for Uruguay. That way they could learn from mistakes that have already been made before rolling out full recreational marijuana reform.



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