Costa Rica has legalized the cultivation and processing of Hemp under a recently signed law that attributes supervision to the agriculture and health agencies. The new law also establishes a legal framework for marijuana in medicinal and therapeutic purposes.
Released in mid-September, the legislation puts the agriculture, production, industrialization and marketing of Cannabis under the responsibility of the country’s Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock, while allowing for research and academic study that will be overseen by the Ministry of Health.
Licenses will be granted for the development of medicines, cosmetics, essential oils and other products for therapeutic use, as well as for food and industrial applications. The law includes a section on crimes, offenses, administrative penalties and confiscation, as well as a chapter on incentives for producer organizations and small businesses.
The national production of Cannabis for medical and therapeutic purposes will be regulated through a certification program that takes into account the patient’s condition according to the guidelines of the Ministry of Health. Individuals can grow marijuana in Costa Rica for personal consumption, but its sale is illegal and can be punished by criminal law.
The rules governing the licensing, permits, registrations, fees, import and reproduction of the Cannabis seeds will be established in the next six months. A tracking system will be established between the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock and the Costa Rican Institute on Drugs.
The Government has highlighted the potential economic benefits for developing the sector, which will be supported by 5% of the tax collection on Cannabis products. The industry will also benefit from the inclusion of cannabis in the “Descubre” program, established last year to support the agriculture and fisheries sectors in Costa Rica, and which addresses food safety, the efficient use of public resources and sustainable development. The objectives of the program are the modernization of agriculture through coordination between public entities, in order to overcome the inequalities that exist in the different areas of the country.
Agriculture represents around 6.5% of Costa Rica’s GDP, and employs 14% of the country’s workforce. The main exports are bananas, pineapple, coffee, sugar, rice, vegetables, ornamental plants, corn, potatoes, and palm oil. Costa Rican farmers and multinational companies operating in the country exploit the plantations, while indigenous communities survive on subsistence agriculture.
Marijuana is grown mainly in Talamanca, in the southeastern province of Limón. But Hemp cultivation will be a challenge, as in other tropical countries, by Costa Rica’s warm climate and 12 hours of daylight.