Legal status of marijuana in costa rica

Legal status of marijuana in costa rica
Luke Sumpter

This tropical paradise is moving forward with a full medical legalization program as penalties for home grow are challenged in court.

Long the destination of American and European retirees, Costa Rica is getting with the program. The medical marijuana program that is. Reform has been slowly bubbling forward as other neighbours take the plunge. Support for medical reform has just passed 50% in a recent poll here.


There is currently legislation in Congress to establish a formal medical marijuana program. This includes the establishment of a regulated cultivation industry. As of yet, however, final approval has not been passed. In the interim, patients must fend for themselves. That said, as long as there is proof of medical use, you should be ok.


Cannabis possession is decriminalized. Growing is technically illegal. However the “crime” of growing for personal use only carries no penalty.

That all depends. A recent 2016 cannabis case has crystallized the need for reform. A lawyer who grew cannabis on the roof of his home had been repeatedly charged. Despite facing 24 years in prison for trafficking, Mario Alberto Cerdas Salazar was acquitted. There was no evidence for intent to distribute.

This still does not mean that you will get off.

The upshot? If you are caught growing for personal consumption, you will probably not face criminal or any financial penalties. Then again, you might. We advice you to not push your luck, especially if you are a tourist,

If you are a snowbird or long term “tourist”, try to get registered as a patient as soon as the law changes.

At this point, signature of legalization legislation is presumed to be in the bag and a full, national legal program for medical use is on its way. Hang tight. Recreational reform so far is not being discussed.

Luke Sumpter
Luke Sumpter

Luke has worked as a cannabis journalist and health science researcher for the past seven years. Over this time, he’s developed an advanced understanding of endocannabinoid system science, cannabis phytochemistry, and cultivation techniques.