A little over a year since the legalization of hemp and medical cannabis, Victor Carvajal, the Costa Rican Minister of Agriculture and Livestock, has granted the first medical cannabis license in the country. This significant authorization was awarded to Azul Wellness S.A., a company owned by Costa Ricans, backed by José Álvaro Jenkins’ family, president of the Costa Rican Union of Chambers and Associations of the Private Business Sector.
Azul Wellness S.A.: Setting Up for Medical Cannabis Production
Azul Wellness is set to establish an 800-square-meter facility for the production and processing of medical cannabis in the province of Guanacaste, Costa Rica. The company has also formed a partnership with U.S. private equity firm Merida Capital Holdings, which specializes in the medical cannabis sector. Their collaboration aims to kickstart Azul’s cultivation of two psychoactive cannabis varieties, focusing primarily on exports.
Costa Rica’s Regulatory Stance on Cannabis
The Costa Rican government maintains tight control over the cannabis industry, with the Ministry of Health and the Minister of Agriculture and Livestock issuing permits related to industrial hemp and medical cannabis. In addition to Azul Wellness, Carvajal has issued eight authorizations for hemp cultivation, with two applications for hemp cultivation and one medical cannabis license still under evaluation.
President Chaves Advocates for Recreational Cannabis Legalization
President Rodrigo Chaves has previously presented a bill to the Legislative Assembly to legalize the recreational use of cannabis in Costa Rica. Despite personally disagreeing with cannabis consumption, Chaves argues for its regulation to boost the Costa Rican economy through tax revenues and formal employment opportunities.
Recreational Cannabis: Public Opinion and Institutional Feedback
However, the move towards recreational cannabis legalization has met with mixed responses. Many institutions, including The Judicial Investigation Organism (OIJ), the Medical Association, and others, have voiced their opposition. Moreover, a University of Costa Rica survey reveals that while 76.5% of Costa Ricans approve of medical cannabis, only 35.4% support recreational legalization.
Costa Rica Joins Other Latin American Countries in Medical Cannabis Legalization
Costa Rica joins a growing list of Latin American countries, including Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, and Peru, that have legalized medical cannabis. Uruguay remains the only Latin American country where recreational cannabis is legal.