Is Weed Legal in Costa Rica? (Answer Inside)

In Costa Rica, recreational weed is illegal, but medical use is allowed for residents and foreign nationals with a permit. Possession of small amounts may lead to confiscation, while larger amounts can result in jail time or fines. It’s advised not to buy or consume weed in public to avoid legal trouble.

My friends traveling to Costa Rica for the first time have often asked whether weed is legal in Costa Rica. Hence, I researched and asked around during my last visit to Costa Rica

Key Takeaways From This Article

Cannabis plants produce weed, also known as marijuana, ganja, pot, herb, or cannabis. It grows in different parts of the world, but it is native to South Asia and Central America. Weed is used for recreational and medical purposes. 

Here are some key takeaways if you consider carrying weed to Costa Rica. 

  • If you are traveling as a tourist, please don’t carry any weed. If caught, the Costa Rican authorities will send you back. 
  • Only medicinal weed is legal, and only foreign residents and locals have permission to use it. 
  • Don’t be tempted to buy any weed or smoke that the locals sell to you. 
  • If the police catch you with weed that is less than 8 grams, the most they can do is confiscate it. A larger amount, and you might find yourself in jail, paying heavy penalties, or both. 

What Costa Rican law says

While recreational weed is illegal in Costa Rica, medical weed is legal. In March 2022, the Costa Rican government passed a law allowing the use of weed for medicinal and therapeutic purposes. However, only foreign residents can take medical marijuana; tourists, even with a prescription, cannot. 

However, in Costa Rica, you must have a permit to use medical weed, but even with a license, it’s essential to know that you cannot consume weed in public. Bills in support of recreational weed are still in progress, and hopefully, the Costa Rican government can give its approval. 

The legislative code No. 10113 clarifies three aspects of weed use: 

  • The bill legalizes medical weed cultivation in Costa Rican rural areas. 
  • Allows the use of weed for industrial and dietary applications. 
  • The government allows the use of weed for medical and therapeutic purposes. 

What Happens if You’re Caught With Weed in Costa Rica? 

The Fuerza Pública (public police) does not have specific regulations for dealing with people caught with weed. Most likely, the police will confiscate small amounts of weed, between one and eight grams. However, large amounts of weed will earn you some time in Costa Rican jail, hefty fines, or both. 

In Costa Rica, growing weed is illegal for self-consumption. Organizations can grow medical weed upon registration with the relevant bodies. The rules governing weed use in Costa Rica can be a bit confusing. Hence, in the table below, I highlight what is illegal and what might not land in jail. 

Illegal Not legal but allowable
Consuming weed in public. Carrying up to 8 grams.
Driving and working while under the influence of weed. Using weed in private.
Selling weed unless there is a pharmacy. Growing less than four plants in your private garden.
Carrying a large amount (10+ grams)

Requirements for Buying Weed in Costa Rica

The Costa Rican Ministry of Health has established clear guidelines for buying and using weed. Any weed product in Costa Rica must have a stamp of approval from the Ministry of Health. The THC level should be under the 0.03% mark for a weed product to get approval. 

The weed product must also have a valid sanitary license to ensure its consumption safety. You must also get a permit to use medical weed in Costa Rica. A prescription from another country is not acceptable in Costa Rica. 

The ministry warns against purchasing weed products online. You can check out the legal weed products on the Ministry of Health’s website, which you can only access when in the country. 

If you are a citizen or a foreign resident, you can use the following process to get medical marijuana:. 

  1. Consult a physician who has the authority to write prescriptions for medical marijuana. 
  2. Take the prescription to a pharmacy of your choice, and you will get medical marijuana. However, check the product’s label to confirm the ingredients present. 

The Costa Rican Society Views Weed

Though the Costa Rican government has approved the use of medical weed, most of the country’s citizens are a bit hesitant. Costa Rica has most of its older generation deeply rooted in religion, and as a result, they have not entirely accepted weed in whichever form. 

Fortunately, in most tourist areas, the use of weed is not strange. However, don’t use weed in public places to avoid getting into trouble with the local authorities. Remember, while foreign residents and citizens can safely use medical marijuana, tourists will not receive the same acceptance. 

To reduce illegal consumption and sale, the Costa Rican government legalized the use of medical weed. 

Tips to Avoid Getting in Trouble Over Weed

While in Costa Rica, you might find people selling weed at the beach, Airbnb, parks, taxis, clubs, and bars. However, avoid being tempted to buy from them, as it can easily land you in trouble. Other ways to avoid getting in trouble over weed in Costa Rica include:. 

  • If you find “420 friendly” in an Airbnb, it means that the owner has no problem with you smoking weed in the house. 
  • Use official taxis instead of unofficial ones, as they may be transporting marijuana and may catch you up in their mess.
  • In most Rastafarian-themed beach bars, weed smoking is an everyday activity. 
  • While Cahuita, Puerto Viejo, and most other Caribbean beach towns are well-known for their cannabis culture, refrain from smoking in public.
  • I would recommend that you don’t carry any weed. If caught, the airport officials will deny entry and send you back home. That’s what happened to Duron Harmon, an American football player. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Can you bring CBD to Costa Rica?

It’s possible to bring CBD oil into Costa Rica as long as the THC content is below 0.03%. CBD products are becoming more popular in the sports and wellness sectors. However, it’s important to note that CBD is not the same as medicinal weed. 

Certain brands have obtained valid licenses to sell CBD products in Costa Rica. Ensure that you buy CBD products in Costa Rica from a licensed brand. 

Can you bring a vape to Costa Rica?

If you disassemble it in a vape case and put it in your carry-on, the e-liquid should be less than 100 ml and in a plastic bag. 

Please don’t vape in public and avoid selling to minors if you don’t want to get in trouble with the Costa Rican police. Carry extra batteries, as you won’t find any places selling them. 


However, the future of recreational marijuana use in Costa Rica is still possible. Hopefully, the government will soon pass a law allowing recreational weed use. 

What is your opinion? Should Costa Rica’s government allow recreational weed use? Has anyone tried to sell you weed, and if so, where in Costa Rica? 

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Born in California, Michelle traveled extensively through the USA and Europe before moving to South Florida during the pandemic. Her career in Marketing has taken her all across the world. Her favorite country is France but she'll never turn down a beach vacation!

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