Tag: costa rica

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Will Costa Rica Become A Top Cannabis Tourism Destination?

Cannabis tourism is not a new thing, however, the size of that particular sector of the emerging international cannabis industry has historically been limited. Obviously, that is due in large part to prohibition laws around the globe.

For many years Amsterdam was the undeniable leader when it came to international cannabis tourism, with a handful of other notable cities such as Barcelona and Vancouver (Canada) also serving as top destinations for cannabis enthusiasts.

As cannabis reform continues to spread across the globe, and with it, the legal cannabis industry, lawmakers in some countries are seeming to envision their regions also serving as top international cannabis tourism destinations, with the latest example of that being in Costa Rica. Per The Q Media (translated to English):

The bill to legalize the use of recreational marijuana in Costa Rica authorizes the Instituto Costarricense de Turismo (ICT) – Costa Rican Tourism Board –  to promote the country as a destination for responsible consumption.

This is established in article 52 of initiative 23,383 that is being analyzed by the legislative commission on the environment (Comisión de Ambiente del Congreso).

Specifically, it indicates:

“The Instituto Costarricense de Turismo should establish information campaigns at the international level to promote Costa Rica as a tourist destination for the responsible consumption of cannabis for recreational use.”

The bill itself is far from guaranteed to pass, so the language pertaining to boosting cannabis tourism needs to be taken with a grain of salt. Cannabis advocates inside and outside of Costa Rica are clearly rooting for legalization to be adopted in Costa Rica, however, as with all things political, no one should count any eggs before they hatch.

According to World Data, “Costa Rica recorded a total of one million tourists in 2020, ranking 90th in the world in absolute terms.” With that in mind, any and all additional tourism that cannabis legalization can generate for Costa Rica will surely be appreciated.

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Costa Rica Authorizes First Hemp Project

Cannabis reform may be spreading across the globe at an ever-increasing pace, and with it, the emerging international cannabis industry, however, the process has moved slower in some countries compared to others, with Costa Rica being a great example of that.

In the Western Hemisphere, cannabis reform has spread faster than its Eastern Hemisphere counterpart. After all, Uruguay was the first nation to legalize cannabis for adult-use, followed by Canada becoming the first G-7 nation to do so. Significant cannabis reform can be found elsewhere in the hemisphere as well.

Yet, cannabis policy reform and standing up a regulated industry has proceeded at a slower rate in Costa Rica. As we previously reported, lawmakers in Costa Rica passed a cannabis reform measure in 2021 and sent it to the President for sign off. That sign off never occurred, and instead, Costa Rica’s president issued a veto and sent the measure back to lawmakers instructing them to make the measure more strict.

Eventually things moved along a bit, and finally, after a lot of political wrangling and foot dragging, Costa Rica has issued its first hemp project license. Per The Tico Times:

The Minister of Agriculture and Livestock (MAG), Víctor Julio Carvajal Porras, signed the resolution authorizing the first project for the use of hemp this Friday.

Ingenio Taboga S.A. made the request. It is located in Bebedero de Cañas, Guanacaste, developing a hemp cultivation and processing project in a 150-hectare area.

According to the reporting by The Tico Times, there are eight more industry applications being considered – seven for hemp-related projects, and one for medical cannabis. It’s unclear if/when any of those additional projects will gain approval.

According to Statista, Costa Rica’s gross domestic product (GDP) ranked 11th in 2021 out of countries located in the Latin America and Caribbean regions. Any jobs and economic boost that the cannabis industry can provide Costa Rica is surely welcomed.

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Is Costa Rica On Track For Recreational Cannabis Reform?

The newly elected president Rodrigo Chaves, has laid out a plan for full legalization within his first 100 days in office that he says should be presented to Congress by November

Costa Rica is now on a fast track to full cannabis reform. The country’s president, Rodrigo Chaves, who took office this April, has just announced exciting plans for the full and final legalization of cannabis.

Chaves said his administration is now preparing regulations for the implementation of medical cannabis and hemp cultivation (which became law before he took office). Beyond this, he is also on track to legalize recreational use, an issue which he discussed during his campaign in the run-up to the election.

A bill is now being prepared by his office for full legalization, which will be presented to the country’s congress by November 1 (at the latest).

On Track with Germany?

While it is not directly connected, it is clear that the German plan to move ahead with recreational cannabis reform is influencing the global discussion. While no definitive plans have been revealed yet, it is widely expected that the draft German legalization legislation will be presented to the Bundestag on about the same schedule as Costa Rica.

If that is the case, the discussion about how to implement recreational reform while still honouring the majority of the 1961 Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs will be undoubtedly broadened. Right now, this is the largest single roadblock to proceeding with adult use, according to the conventional wisdom coming out of Berlin this summer since the June hearings.

If Costa Rica becomes the first country in Central America to fully legalize cannabis, it will also almost certainly do three things. The first is that it will certainly galvanize the discussion in other neighbouring countries (starting with Mexico). The second is that this reform will undoubtedly attract even more American tourists if not expats frustrated with the slow pace of federal reform in the continental US. The third likely impact is that the country could stand poised to become a major exporter for recreational cannabis markets elsewhere. That starts with not only Germany, but other countries in Europe (like Luxembourg) now on the cusp of recreational change and where there is unlikely to be enough recreational cannabis grown domestically (at least at first).

In fact, international regulations for the export of recreational cannabis could be one of the first discussions of a growing club of nations who are now seriously contemplating such reform.

In the meantime, Costa Rica has indicated that it is certainly joining the club.

costa rica

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Costa Rican Lawmakers Approve Another Medical Cannabis Bill

Last year lawmakers in Costa Rica passed a medical cannabis bill and sent it to the Costa Rican President for his signature. Rather than sign the measure into law, Costa Rican President Carlos Alvarado Quesada sat on the bill for a long time.

For months Quesada aired grievances about the measure, indicating that it wasn’t strict enough. All the while he would sprinkle in statements that he knows people that benefit from medical cannabis and isn’t against medical cannabis in general.

Ultimately, Quesada would go on to veto the medical cannabis measure earlier this year. According to The Tico Times, at the time Quesada wanted parts of the bill modified, specifically the wording around self-consumption and self-cultivation.

Why The Veto?

President Quesada indicated that he felt the previously identified areas undermined “legitimate” objectives of the bill and ‘could pose a public safety risk.’

“I want to say categorically that I support medical cannabis,” Quesada said to The Tico Times after the veto decision was rendered.

“This is to alleviate people with various diseases and I even have close and very dear people who need it. And I also support industrial hemp, because it will help agricultural production and economic revival. Let’s make this very clear: I agree with all these objectives and I want to be able to sign this law,” he said.

The move by Costa Rica’s president was described at the time as being a partial veto, however, the ultimate end result was that nothing got passed and it yielded the same effect as a full veto.

A Revised Measure

It did not take long for lawmakers in Costa Rica to revise the medical cannabis measure in a way that addressed President Quesada’s expressed concerns. Lawmakers passed the revised measure this week and sent it back to Quesada’s desk. Per El Mundo (translated by Google):

This Tuesday the deputies approved project 21,388, Law of cannabis for medicinal and therapeutic use and of hemp for food and industrial use.

The initiative that had the vote in favor of 35 deputies and only 4 against; was presented by Deputy Zoila Volio.

Costa Rica’s President previously indicated that he will sign the new measure, which did not include provisions for home cultivation. Only time will tell if President Quesada will make good on his promise.

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