In Costa Rica the approval of medicinal cannabis is under discussion. Last Tuesday, October 19, the Congress approved in the first of two necessary votes, a project that aims to legalize the use of medicinal cannabis, as well as hemp production and industrialization.

The vote, with 44 legislators present out of the 57 who make up the Legislative Assembly, had a result of 33 deputies in favour and 11 against. The second and final vote was set for Thursday, October 21. However, a group of 10 deputies has sent the draft law to the Constitutional Chamber, which means a brake on the ratification of the initiative. Now, the Constitutional Chamber has one month to pronounce on the constitutionality of the initiative. If endorsed, after this period the text will return to the Congress to schedule the second and final vote.

The deputies of the conservative parties voted against this initiative, therefore, the possibility of sending the text to the Constitutional Chamber for study remains open.


The medicinal cannabis approval will allow the Costa Rican authorities grant licenses for the cannabis production and industrialization for medical purposes. The free cultivation, production, industrialization, commercialization of hemp and its products or by-products for food and industrial purposes will also be allowed. All this without prior or additional authorization from the authorities.

In the statement issued by the Legislative Assembly, it is highlighted that, with this initiative “it is intended to regulate and allow access and use of the cannabis and its derivatives exclusively for medicinal and therapeutic use, so that the fundamental right to health of the entire Costa Rican population is guaranteed “and that it will be “the Costa Rican State, through the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock and the Ministry of Health, each within the scope of its powers, who will assume control and regulation of production, industrialization and marketing activities, without prejudice to the provisions of the law on narcotics”.

Until a few months ago, the Costa Rican government had expressed its support for the hemp industry, but, nevertheless, it opposed the medicinal cannabis legalization, considering that it did not have the necessary tools to exercise adequate control over the activity.

In this way, it is established that the law will also allow exports to countries where the legal trade of these products is allowed. The Executive Power will create and regulate, by means of the regulations of this law, a traceability system that allows the identification of said legal origin.

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Laura Taibo
GMP Consultant