Updated on December 28, 2018. Medical content reviewed by Dr. Joseph Rosado, MD, M.B.A, Chief Medical Officer
Costa Rica is one of the several countries moving to legalize medical marijuana, though recreational weed would remain prohibited. While legislators are still revising a bill that would make medical cannabis legal, they have agreed on how patients would qualify for and access medical weed.
Via the Law for the Investigation, Regulation and Control of Cannabis and Hemp Plants for Medicinal, Food and Industrial Use, Costa Rica has outlined several conditions that would qualify patients for medical marijuana in the country, including:
The bill would also allow doctors to prescribe medical cannabis if national or international studies — which the Institute for Regulation and Control of Cannabis and Hemp (IICBA) must validate — confirm medical marijuana can benefit your existing treatment plan.
The Costa Rican government will not ask patients to apply for a medical marijuana card, as many other countries do. Instead, you’ll make an appointment with your physician to discuss whether medical cannabis would benefit you.
If your doctor feels you qualify for medical weed — and if you agree its benefits outweigh the side effects — they’ll issue a medical certification and prescription for medical cannabis, which you can then bring to a local pharmacy for fulfillment. Prescriptions, instead of recommendations, are provided since dispensaries aren’t part of Costa Rica’s medical marijuana program.
In prior drafts of the bill, patients would have been required to register with the IICBA after receiving their medical certifications. Pharmacies would then access this database before filling your prescription for medical cannabis. This mandate was abandoned, however, due to the Ministry of Health having concerns about discrimination.
Obtaining your medical marijuana in Costa Rica is like picking up everyday prescriptions. Visit your local pharmacy with your medical certification and prescription from your physician. Provide these documents to the pharmacist on duty, and they’ll fulfill the order for you.
As a part of Costa Rica’s pending legislation, pharmacists will be required to receive training on dispensing medical cannabis. The law also requires pharmacists to understand the effects, administration and presentation of medical marijuana so they can answer any questions patients may have when picking up their prescriptions.
Whether medical cannabis prescriptions in Costa Rica will include refills still remains unclear. Other countries, like Italy, provide medical marijuana prescriptions that are only valid for one use, which means patients must visit their doctor each time their prescription needs to be refilled.
Since recreational marijuana would remain illegal in Costa Rica following the passage of the bill to legalize medical cannabis, it’s essential that legislators provide legal protection for patients who use medical weed.
Medical marijuana cards are one way countries can offer patients and their families protection. If questioned by law enforcement, patients could present their medical marijuana cards to confirm they’re allowed to consume and carry medical cannabis. Costa Rica removed this protection from its pending bill, though it may be reinstated later.
At MarijuanaDoctors.com, our mission is to provide you and your loved ones with up-to-date information about medical marijuana, from its pending legalization in countries like Costa Rica to its ongoing role in treatment plans for numerous conditions.