Saturday 27 May 2023

In hard times Costa Rica demonstrates it resilience and ingenuity

Marijuana is not legal in Costa Rica but possessing small quantities for personal use is not punishable

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(QCOSTARICA) The crisis caused by the coronavirus has hit Costa Rica’s fragile economy really hard, especially the tourism sector. In response, the government has come up with an ambitious plan to raise hemp and medical marijuana to try and heal the country’s economic woes.

Other counties that have invested in the hemp industry have profited considerably. The five largest producers in the world are: China, United States, Canada, France, Chile and, believe it or not, North Korea.

The production of medical marijuana is legal in 21 countries.

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Although this proposed plan is still in its preliminary stages the country’s president is trying to move forward with its implementation in an effort to reactivate the economy and generate much-needed revenue.

Hemp is the plant and marijuana is a drug derived from it. The latter can only be obtained from the female hemp plant. This plant has different varieties and strains that are used for a multitude of purposes. Hemp’s fiber, seeds and stems have been used for thousands of years to make a whole gamut of products such as rope, textiles, personal care product, clothing, shoes, food, paper, different types of oil, and biocombustibles (fuel for combustion engines).

In addition to the support of Costa Rica’s president, congresswoman (diputada in Spanish) Zoila Rosa Volio has been a staunch proponent of the industrial use of hemp and medical marijuana.

The latter has been used to effectively treat certain forms of epilepsy, nausea and vomiting associated with chemotherapy (quimioterapia in Spanish), loss of appetite and weight associated with HIV, chronic pain, multiple sclerosis, insomnia, post-traumatic stress, glaucoma, irritable bowel syndrome and more.

Moreover, if successful this new industry will create jobs and possibly of attracting foreign investment.

However, some fear that the legalization of growing hemp and medical marijuana may give birth to a clandestine illegal market. Currently, marijuana is not legal in Costa Rica but possessing small quantities for personal use is not punishable.

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Technically growing marijuana is also against the law, but can be done for personal use only. Marijuana is the second most confiscated drug after cocaine here.

Another interesting proposal by the government is to try and attract more retirees. Currently, ex-pat retirees generate about US$1.5 billion dollars per year. They also employ many Costa Ricans, so it is in the country’s best interest to make it easier for people to retire here.

I wrote Costa Rica’s president about this subject and received a very positive response.

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Christopher Howard has been conducting monthly relocation/retirement tours and writing retirement guidebooks for more than 30 years. See

He has a #1 relocation/retirement blog at:,  is also the author of the forthcoming 19th edition of “New Golden Door to Retirement and Living in Costa Rica — the official guide to relocation”  and the one-of-a-kind bestselling e-book, “Guide to Costa Rican Spanish,” that can also be purchased through Amazon.

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Christopher Howard
Christopher Howard has lived, worked and played in one of the most magical places on earth for more than 33 years. His love for Central America is so great that he became a citizen of Costa Rica. Howard is the author the perennial best-selling travel/retirement/overseas investment guide book (15 editions), The New Golden Door to Retirement and Living in Costa Rica. He is the only author of any of the guidebooks about Costa Rica who actually lives there full-time. You can reach Howard at

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