Imagine waking up in a luxury jungle villa a stone’s throw away from fine white sandy beaches and clear waters. Now imagine this vacay in heaven with marijuana and you’re thinking of Costa Rica.
In 2018, Costa Rica’s Supreme Court decriminalized possession and cultivation of small amounts of marijuana. And it’s a good thing they did. There are plenty of potheads. Costa Rica ranks number 6 in Latin America for the number of people who identify themselves as potheads.
The 2018 law may have decriminalized a small amount of marijuana. But it didn’t allow for non-personal cultivation or possession. Anyone caught with more than a personal amount could find themselves in front of a magistrate. However, things began to change last year in favor of cannabis.
The reason has to do with the pandemic. Before the lockdowns and social distancing, Costa Rica didn’t have much cause to enter into the legal marijuana market. Though the unemployment numbers were high at 12.5% their economy was more stable.
When the pandemic came to the country, Costa Rica’s officials knew they had to take some action. They had to give the economy a boost and prevent the unemployment rate from going sky high.
In March 2020 Zoilia Rosa Volio introduced a bill to legalize cannabis in Costa Rica. Volio saw it as a “project to generate employment.” By May, Carlos Alvarado, Costa Rica’s President, announced government support of the bill. He offered his support as a means to “reactivate the economy after the crisis caused by the pandemic.” The bill has passed by the majority in the legislature and awaits a vote by the Plenary.
Personal cultivation is legal in Costa Rica. But the primary aim of the bill is to develop a medical marijuana export revenue for the country. The bill allows “the use and exploitation in the national territory of psychoactive cannabis [1% THC or more] for the medical and therapeutic purposes,” thereby making cultivation and processing of marijuana legal.
The bill will require cultivators to get a license. To produce medicinal grade marijuana for export will require quality standards.
Cultivation in Costa Rica should prove fruitful for business and the economy. The country’s agricultural economy is healthy. In fact, Costa Rica produces billions in USD of agricultural products such as pineapples, coffee, and bananas for export. Natural resources make Costa Rica a good candidate for marijuana cultivation.
Location is key
Costa Rica is situated between the Atlantic and the Pacific Oceans near Panama. It’s location is the key to its thriving export markets. These exports stabilize the country’s economy.
Pineapples, bananas, and coffee, while leading exports are not the country’s main source of export revenue. Medical devices are where the country’s export strength lies. In 2020, about 2.69 billion USD in medical exports left Costa Rica’s borders.
Marijuana is a Win for Everyone
Passing the bill will be a win for everyone. The agricultural industry gets to grow a plant in high demand. Cannabis businesses will develop. They will provide needed jobs and strengthen the economy.
Marijuana exports are projected by the state export promotion body at 5.7 billion USD a year. This figure would grow with time and could surpass, even merge, with medical exports.