History of CBD and Cannabis: Costa Rica
Bordered by Nicaragua to the north and Panama to the southeast, Costa Rica is known for its stable democracy and high standard of living among other South American nations. Though the country’s economy has specialized away from agriculture, many residents still rely on the economic benefits provided by cannabis cultivation and distribution.
Though cannabis is technically illegal in the country, personal possession of small amounts does not carry any penalty. Moreover, cannabis regulation has been modernly and historically been very ambiguous about the punishments associated with cultivation, use, and distribution.
Cannabis, CBD, and Costa Rica
In the first half of the twentieth century, the United States and other Western nations were beginning to question the benefits of cannabis use. In the thirties, a number of states individually legalized or restricted access to cannabis supplements, citing that it could cause delusion, insanity, and family problems.
After broad criminalization efforts succeeded in the United States, cannabis restrictions were pushed out onto the rest of the world in the form of economic sanctions, import tariffs, and international regulation.
Following pressure from the United Nations, Costa Rica formally made cannabis illegal in 1961 under the Narcotics Law 8204. Much of the bill’s language mirrors sentiments expressed under UN Narcotics policy, which directly states that cannabis causes negative health effects.
Despite these regulations, cannabis use continued to be wildly popular on the island. In the sixties and seventies, hippies from America traveled to the lush beaches, sharing America-specific cannabis strains that spread throughout the country.
Nowadays, it’s estimated that 7 percent of Costa Ricans use marijuana regularly, compared to a global average of 2.5 percent.
Overall, most residents are amenable to growing legalization. Cannabis is an integral part of the economic well being of many farmers lives – it can be confusing when some actions are not punished while others incur heavy penalties. Since the law doesn’t clarify what possessing “small quantities” means, it’s unclear to users whether or not they’ll get arrested.
Nonetheless, it’s interesting that the country has been able to maintain an ambiguous stance towards cannabis when so many other nations have buckled under international pressure. The undefined nature of the country’s narcotics law may make it more open to legalization and decriminalization reforms in the future.
Slowly, the country is moving towards increased regulation of cannabis. In May of 2019, a law was proposed to regulate the legal sale of CBD and cannabis-based oils on the market place, which is expected to pass in an upcoming legislative session.
CBD derived from hemp has grown enormously in popularity in Costa Rica. It’s not difficult to find vendors openly advertising topical creams, tinctures, oils, and edible foods enhanced with CBD.