Hooray!! Great news in the cannabis world coming all the way from Costa Rica. On Tuesday, March 2nd, 2022, Costa Rica legalized medical marijuana. The law, Expediente 21.388, also authorizes the growing and processing of hemp plants. Recreational marijuana is still prohibited throughout most of Latin America, but there is potential that this could be changing soon. With President Alvaredo’s time in office coming to an end, the two candidates who are racing to replace him are in favor of recreational marijuana. Fun fact: Uruguay became the first country to to legalize in 2013.
Unfortunatley, the Covid-19 pandemic hit Costa Rica’s tourism-dependent enconomy extremely hard. With tourists not being able to travel like years past, they saw 2 million less visitors in 2020 than 2019. With the quality of life for Costa Rica’s residents at risk, lawmakers began to consider the law and revenue that country could make up for in exports.
The passing of this law has been a longtime coming for Costa Rica. A recreational bill has been sitting in Costa Rica’s Congress since last April of 2021. President Carlos Alvaredo recently vetoed an earlier version of this law back in January 2022 with the need of cultivation and and consumption limits to be determined. After signing the bill, he mentioned that legalization would be “of great benefit to Costa Rica” (Leafly). President Alvarado continues to remain outspoken about his support for industrial hemp. He says he is confident that “it will help agricultural production and economic recovery” (Leafly). He and other officials have concerns and reservations surrounding the legal industry growing out of control. President Alvarado went on to justify his January veto with concerns about those growing plants at home causing hardship for authorities to regulate. He expressed his fear that home cultivation may lead to a widespread substance abuse.
Furthermore, Zoila Rosa Volio Pacheco, the lawmaker behind the bill has assured those with concern that legalization in Costa Rica would not cause a spike in national drug use. The global data backs up her claim as studies show that nations with legalization perform better at preventing drug abuse than nations that take the “War on Drugs” approach.
We are so excited to hear that one more country has made the decision to make cannabis legal! Heres to many many more.