Mar 3, 2022 - World

Costa Rica legalizes medical marijuana

A man with tattoes tends to a marijuana plant in Costa Rica
An activist in Costa Rica growing marijuana to treat his son’s seizures. Photo: Ezequiel Becerra/AFP via Getty Images.

Costa Rica legalized medical marijuana Wednesday after a two-year debate, becoming the eleventh Latin American nation to take that step.

Why it matters: The decision aims to bring investments to the small Central American country and reduce the illegal market, which has been growing in the past few years.

Details: Costa Ricans interested in getting medical cannabis must get a permit by following guidelines that authorities said would be available by May.

  • The Costa Rican bill also makes growing hemp legal for industrial use, like textiles.
  • There's also a possibility Costa Rica may approve recreational marijuana use in the future, although a bill sitting in Congress since April hasn't gone anywhere.
  • Still, the top two candidates in an upcoming runoff for president say they support recreational marijuana.

Zoom out: Medical marijuana is legal in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, México, Panama, Paraguay and Perú.

  • In 2013, Uruguay became the first country in the world to legalize recreational pot.
  • In México, the Supreme Court ruled last year prohibition was unconstitutional. A bill legalizing cannabis for recreational purposes has already been approved by the lower House (a Senate vote is pending).

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