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Costa Rica Moves Forward with Medical Cannabis Reform

Costa Rica is finally doing it! On Wednesday of this week, the medical marijuana bill that was passed the day before was signed by the country’s President, Carlos Alvarado. Alvarado, who earlier in the year had vetoed this bill, claimed that it was too restrictive and should not be allowed to stand. With the required changes, lawmakers sent it back this week to Alvarado.

Supporters praise the legislation, saying that it will provide a much-needed boost to the country’s agricultural sector, not to mention create jobs.

Alvarado is now admitting that reform in these final days of his government’s administration is necessary. The two candidates who hope to replace him, José Maria Figueres and Rodrigo Chavez, do not seem to share his reservations. Both of them are public supporters for recreational reform. Next month they face off in a runoff vote. As such, it seems that further developments are possible.

There is little surprise given the current situation in this region. Even though their progress to recreational reform has not been as swift or smooth, neighboring countries like Argentina, Chile and Paraguay have made similar strides. Ecuador made significant progress this week. Brazil seems to be on edge. 

Only Uruguay however, of all the countries in the region, has implemented full recreational reform — indeed becoming the first country in the world to do so — although Mexico is now close to becoming the second country in the region to follow suit. Given the statements of the men who are now vying for the country’s top political spot, however, it may be that Costa Rica becomes the second (or third) country in Central or South America to fully legalize the plant, as well as its production and consumption.

Why Costa Rica’s Recreational Market Is So Appealing

Prior to this week, marijuana was basically decriminalized in the United States. There were no criminal consequences for personal consumption. There has always been a history and tradition of personal consumption, which was not misunderstood. In 2016, a court ruling upheld this. The old law did not allow for possession or cultivation limits, which is why it was so hot politically for the outgoing president to address the limits issue.

2019 marked the beginning of legalization. Only one firm in the country has received permission to study this plant. They have been cultivating 12 varieties at 2 different locations.

However, it does not take a rocket scientist to realize that Costa Rica’s domestic industry in the offing is going to be a boon to the country — and far from exports. The current legislation will give a boost to the country’s expat and medical tourism sectors. Over the years, Canada has been known as a country with a high number of Boomers from the USA and Canada who moved to it for its low living costs, excellent healthcare and stunning views.

Costa Rica has received about 1.7 million visitors a year since pre-COVID. This is in addition to the snowbirds. About 80% tourists visit Costa Rica for ecotourism. Earnings from this sector of the economy amount to over $1.7 billion — or did. It’s also one of the biggest sources for foreign currency. It had grown an average of 7% per year up to COVID.

The announcement is sure to be welcomed by all those looking for tourist attractions. This combination is sure to prove highly lucrative and popular.