Costa Rica is at the Tipping Point for MMJ


“The President is going to call the bill in August,” accord to reports from the Latin American Medical Cannabis Conference.

With all the polarizing global marijuana news this year, it’s easy to forget the regions around the world that don’t get as much attention as North America but are nevertheless fighting cannabis prohibition and winning.

One of those fantastic regions is Central America, specifically, the beautiful nation of Costa Rica.

Tim Morales is the executive director of the Cannabis Association of Costa Rica, and one of the organizers behind this past July’s Latin America Medical Cannabis Conference held in San Jose, Costa Rica.

“It was excellent.  We had people from a number of countries fly in and a couple of [Costa Rican] Senators attended both days, so it was great to see the support of politicians,” said Morales in an interview with

The event hosted a list of speakers to elaborate on how cannabis can be a major catalyst for economic expansion.  One of the hopes for the event’s organizers was to help push a pending bill through the Costa Rican Congress which will allow doctors across the tropical nation to prescribe medical marijuana.  

Due to a de-facto court decision at the beginning of 2016, recreational marijuana in Costa Rica is ironically legal, in that the justice system determined Costa Ricans are allowed to grow their own for personal consumption.  Selling, however, is still a big no-no.

“We had this event at the end of July hoping to push this bill across the goal line for debate.  At the end of the second day, Senator Atencio told me and another [organizer] to come outside.  He informed us that he received a phone call from the Ministry of Health that the President is going to call the bill in August. For that to happen at our conference was a huge thing.”

Other countries neighboring Costa Rica seem to share similar sentiments on relaxing cannabis, but are playing a delicate game of trying to navigate what is best for them among the growing acceptance of this once illicit plant.  For a while, there were rumors that Panama was going to allow medical cannabis, but nothing seems to have emerged yet.  Guatemala has been discussing legalizing medical cannabis since 2014, and Honduras and Nicaragua are nowhere near discussions of that nature.

Costa Rica has arguably the most stable government in the region and is one of the most economically prosperous as well.  It has been on the forefront of change for decades, including having no army, some of the strictest environmental regimes around and animal rights laws that are so plentiful, if cattle could buy plane tickets that’s where they would all go.  

It’s no surprise that pot will bloom there first.


About Author

Jonathan Hiltz has been a journalist, a TV producer and marijuana advocate for over sixteen years. He has a wife, two young children and lives in the Toronto area.

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