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The Legal Status of CBD in Central America and Caribbean Islands

A Market of Billion Dollars Possibility 

Did you know that the global CBD market size was estimated at USD 2.8 billion in 2020 and is expected to reach USD 3.5 billion in 2021?

Well, despite the massive market, Central and Caribbean regions of the North American continent are struggling with CBD legalization. Also, CBD as a differentiator is a hard to find phenomenon for now. It is a result of the same old CBD vs THC debate. 

The good news is that the reform across the regions is picking up momentum in the form of cannabis decriminalization and a push to legalize medicinal marijuana. Recreational use of cannabis is still illegal in all countries with no exception in place. 

To simplify the legal status of CBD in Central and Caribbean countries, we have created a map for you (which might not look so hopeful but wait till you see the map of reforms!) and a table. 

Let’s go then!

The Laws Across Central America 

Central America gave this world Salsa, and Reggae music. The Latin American music has dominated the world for as long as we can remember. 

Their culture exuberates celebratory energy and is infectious. That’s the reason people around the world assume this region to be cannabis friendly but is it true?

Unfortunately, Central American countries are struggling to legalize cannabis laws for years now. Only 28% Caribbean countries have “kind of” CBD friendly laws. 

Good news is that the momentum of change is picking up and is expected to grow in the upcoming years, making it at par with countries like Canada. 

CountryMedical UseRecreational UseCannabis Reforms 
BelizeLegal with prescription IllegalIn motion
Costa RicaIllegalIllegalIn motion
El Salvador IllegalIllegalIn motion
Guatemala IllegalIllegalNone
HondurusIllegalIllegalNone
NicaraguaIllegalIllegal In motion
PanamaIllegalIllegalIn motion

Belize 

Status – CBD for medical purposes with prescription only || Reforms in motion

The Belizean government piloted its first ever move towards legalization of cannabis in 2017. The government amended the Misuse of Drugs Act and gave way to medical CBD. 

Under the law, as an adult you can possess 10 gm or less marijuana anywhere except in the school premises. 

Hemp derived CBD based products for medicinal purposes with prescription are valid but they cannot be imported from outside the country yet.

Belize has a long way ahead of it to regularize the hemp and cannabis industry but the green wave is thriving within the country, especially amongst the young population, lawmakers, and activists. 

Costa Rica

Status – Illegal || Reforms in motion 

Costa Rica introduced Cannabis & Hemp Production Law For Medical Purposes in 2019. 

Another bill is on its way to the legislature by Jose Maria called- Law For Regulation of Cannabis for Medicinal & Therapeutic Use And For the Use of Hemp for Industrial and Food Production (Ummmm, talk about long name!)

This is good news, especially for farmers because they make significant contributions to the GDP  and hemp production will push the profits further. 

Bottom line for CBD users is that there is no law in place. Therefore, in a way it falls under legal grey area and not much can be said about it. 

El Salvador 

Status – Illegal || Reforms in motion 

CBD products or any kind of cannabis based product is illegal in El Salvador. The country has struggled from drug trafficking and gang wars over drugs for a long time now. Therefore, the larger consensus on cannabis, even without THC traces continues to be seen in a bad light. 

Despite the issues concerning drugs, El Salvador is trying to move forward with cannabis laws and therefore, has proposed reforms to its existing laws. The reforms proposed amendments to LERARD or Regulatory Law on Drugs to allow medicinal and research based use.

For now, CBD laws remain in the red zone in El Salvador. 

Guatemala 

Status – Illegal with no scope of reforms 

Guatemala has the most brutal laws surrounding cannabis in the world. Posession of any kind of cannabis is illegal and can even land you to the doors of death penalty. 

Therefore, refrain from buying or carrying even CBD based products with 0% THC to Guatemala. 

Honduras 

Status – Illegal with no scope of reforms

Any cannabis sativa (scientific name of the cannabis plant) derivatives are illegal under the “Law on Abuse and Illegal Trafficking of Drugs & Psychotropic Substances” in Honduras. 

Nicaragua 

Status – Illegal with no scope of reforms

Another Central American country with strict cannabis laws. No form, including CBD derivatives are legal in Nicaragua. 

Panama

Status – Illegal || Reforms in motion 

Panama has no legal framework for CBD possession. Any form of cannabis possession is illegal and can land you in jail for a year. 

Despite the strict laws surrounding cannabis, a progressive news came on March 4, 2020. In a tweet by the National Assembly of Panama, Bill 153, which establishes measures to regulate the medicinal and therapeutic use of cannabis and its derivatives and dictates other provisions, was approved in the first debate. 

On March 16, 2021, the bill entered its second session of debate and modifications to the bill are underway. The fate of cannabis laws lie in the future for Panama!

The Laws Across Caribbean Countries 

Caribbean region of the North America continent has 13 countries. Out of the 13, only five have CBD friendly laws with terms and conditions applied. Rest have strictly banned it. 

The reforms are in motion and as the region already harbours huge tourism in the world, it is likely to be the biggest cannabis paradise in the world very soon. Until that day arrives, here’s a table and a map for you to understand the laws around the Caribbean countries. 

CountryMedical UseRecreational UseCannabis Reforms 
Antigua & Barbuda IllegalIllegalIn motion
The Bahamas IllegalIllegalIn motion
Barbados LegalIllegalIn motion
Dominican Republic IllegalIllegalNone
HaitiIllegalIllegalNone
CubaIllegalIllegalNone
Dominica IllegalIllegalIn motion
JamaicaIllegalIllegalIn motion
Grenada IllegalIllegalIn motion
Trinidad and TobagoIllegalIllegalIn motion
Saint Kitts and Nevis IllegalIllegalIn motion
Saint LuciaIllegalIllegalIn motion
Saint Vincent and the Grenadines LegalIllegalIn motion

Antigua & Barbuda 

Status- Illegal || Reforms in motion

CBD based products consumption or cannabis usage is illegal in Antigua and Barbuda. 

The good news is the ban on cannabis is not strict and is finding a way towards full legalization. According to the Misuse of Drugs (Amendment) Act, 2018– possession of cannabis up to 15 gm is decriminalised. 

Also, cultivation of up to four cannabis plants/household is lawful now. It is expected that the medical usage of cannabis will be considered soon but the timeline is not in place yet. 

The Bahamas 

Status- Illegal || Reforms in motion

Bahamas is a vacation paradise for people around the world but unfortunately not for CBD lovers. All sorts of cannabis products are absolutely illegal but this Caribbean country has immense public support for legalization. 

The support also has come in the form of an extensive survey report submitted to the Prime Minister Hubert Minnis by the Economic Recovery Committee.The report has made suggestions to legalize cannabis with certain regulatory guidelines in place.

The Bahama is likely to see the most laid back CBD laws soon. It is a matter of when and how. 

Barbados 

Status- Medical CBD is legal || Other reforms in motion

As of 2021, CBD is legal for medicinal usage. The wave of change began in 2019 with the approval of the Medicinal Cannabis Industry Bill.

The most interesting change has to be legalization of cannabis for Rastafarians community under the Sacramental Cannabis Law. Rastafarians pray to their God Jah and believe in the principle of balanced life. One of the most significant religious rituals includes smoking ganja or marijuana for meditation with Jah. 

Barbados has definitely shown a way to progressive and inclusive politics with the recognition of religious sentiments. Way to go!

Dominican Republic 

Status- Illegal with no scope of reforms 

The CBD laws in Dominican Republic are at par with Guatemala. Anything and everything related to cannabis, even remotely is illegal. 

As of now, it does not look like the country is keen on legalizing cannabis in any form. 

Haiti 

Status- Illegal || No reforms in motion

According to the United Nations Office on Drugs & Crime, Haiti has the lowest rate of cannabis consumption amongst Caribbean countries. 

The low consumption rate goes hand in hand with the strict cannabis law. Any form of possession, for medical or recreational purposes is illegal.

So, if you’re looking for CBD products legally, for now the only message  you’re gonna receive is unfortunately- Error 404: Not Found.

Cuba

Status- Illegal with no scope of reforms 

Camila Cabello’s heart is still in Havana oo na na na! 

Our writer is weird but the point is, Havana, Cuba’s capital is a melting hotspot of tourists from around the world. A paradise in Caribbean region filled with glistening beaches and infectious fun energy. 

This paradise has the world’s strictest CBD laws. Cuba’s tough-on-drug stance is known to the world and that has left cannabis illegal so far. 

We are yet to witness any suggestion or cannabis legalization related proposal in the parliament any time soon. Until then let’s be hopeful, right?

Dominica

Status- Illegal || Reforms in motion 

Dominica recently proposed to decriminalize marijuana possession in its Drugs (Prevention and Misuse) Act Amendment but any form of consumption remains illegal. It also allows cultivation of 3 cannabis plants in a residential space.

Dominica is struggling to fight its drug trafficking problem. Amidst this, legalization of marjuana for any purposes looks distant but despite the law, locals cultivate it in large quantities. 

We can hope that the people’s movement can give way to CBD friendly laws soon.

Jamaica

Status- Illegal || Reforms in motion

Remember Barbados allows its religious group Rastafarians freedom to consume marijuana? Well, the group’s origin lies in Jamican history.

Bob Marley is the face of Reggae’s justice driven Rastafarian movement which not only represented a religion but a tough fight against the British colonizers. 

Despite strong Rastafarian influence in Jamaica, its citizens had to fight for marijuana for a long time. It was only in 2015 when Jamaica decriminalized possession of marijuna for personal use under its Dangerous Drugs Act. 

Post decriminalization in 2015, huge developments have taken place in Jamaica. For example, in 2018, Jamaican company Timeless Herbal Care got a license to export extracted cannabis oil to Canada. 

In another event, Jamaican government’s intent on economizing and empowering its citizens came into light when they signed a memorandum of understanding with Jamaican Medical Cannabis Corporation to undertake a project to preserve and conduct research on local cannabis strains. 

You must be feeling really excited to see significant CBD friendly laws in making, right? We are excited too! 

Grenada 

Status- Illegal || Reforms in motion

Prime Minister Dr Keith Mitchell stance on marijuana legalization is positive and can reaffirmed from his statement:

“Just like alcohol, like a cigarette, marijuana days for decriminalizing, for legalizing is coming too, that is a fact, the question is how it is done, what extend we go in dealing with the law as it relates to that drug use is something that will come forward.”

As of 2021, CBD is illegal in Grenada but after this bill, the locals and the world are hopeful that it will be legalized soon, especially for medicinal purposes. Until then, we wait and watch.

Trinidad and Tobago

Status- Illegal || Reforms under motion

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Trinidad’s President Paula-Mae Weekes decriminalized cannabis possession and gave green signal for personal consumption up to 30 grams in  December, 2019.   

CBD or any cannabis related products continues to be illegal for any kind of use- recreational or medicinal. Trinidad’s move aligns with the Caribbean countries slow but positive ascent towards making marijuana and hemp industry a reality. 

Saint Kitts and Nevis 

Status- Illegal || Reforms in motion

Consumption, distribution, or possession of cannabis or CBD is illegal in Saint Kitts and Nevis but in a 2019 landmark decision by the government, it was decriminalized. 

The decriminalization came in the light of Rastafarian’s religious rights to consume ganja or marijuana. 

In a national poll conducted by the National Cannabis Commission, the majority of Saint Kitts & Nevis citizens supported medical use of marijuana. 

The development of cannabis friendly laws will continue to grow it seems. 

Saint Lucia 

Status- Illegal || Reforms in motion

Saint Lucia has strict laws on cannabis and it’s 100% illegal.

The good news is, it will be joining hands with fellow caribbean countries like Jamaica, Antigua & Barbuda soon to decriminalize cannabis possession.  

Saint Vincent and the Grenadines 

Status- Medical CBD legal || More reforms in motion

Saint Vincent and the Grenadines is one of the most liberal Caribbean countries to pursue cannabis reforms. 

In 2018, medicinal cannabis and industrial cannabis cultivation were given green signal with the help of Medicinal Cannabis Industry Bill and Cannabis Cultivation (Amnesty) 2018 respectively. 

The Massive Wave of Change 

By now you must have realized that it is no mystery that Central and Caribbean countries have one of the most restrictive and least liberal cannabis laws. Even CBD with 0% THC is a distant dream for many. 

The dreams might look distant but the majority of the countries have recognized cannabis’s values, economically and medically. Countries like Jamaica and Barbados are also recognizing its social, religious, and spiritual values. 

This map is evidence of the wave of change happening around the regions. 

These regions have a potential to offer high-yield and high-margin packages to the world with the help of existing cannabis farming cultures despite illegal status. 

The regions are realizing their true potential to become major players in the hemp and cannabis industry. We are all hopeful that North America’s largest player also includes countries like Costa Rica and Belize beyond the US, Canada, and Mexico. 

References

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https://stluciastar.com/cannabis-to-be-decriminalized/
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Cannabis Cultivation (Amnesty) Bill, 2018. (n.d.). Government of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines. http://www.gov.vc/images/PoliciesActsAndBills/Cannabis_Cultivation_Amnesty_Bill_2018.pdf
Dangerous Drugs. (2008). The Government of the Bahamas On-Line Legislation. http://laws.bahamas.gov.bs/cms/images/LEGISLATION/PRINCIPAL/2000/2000-0043/DangerousDrugsAct_1.pdf
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Langlois, R. (n.d.). Debate on Cannabis Regulation in El Salvador. A few observations. – Knowmad institut. KnowMad Institut. Retrieved June 11, 2021, from https://knowmadinstitut.org/2019/12/debate-on-cannabis-regulation-in-el-salvador-a-few-observations/#easy-footnote-bottom-2-6301
Law For Regulation of Cannabis for Medicinal & Therapeutic Use And For the Use of Hemp for Industrial and Food Production. (n.d.). Costa Rica Law. https://costaricalaw.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/05/21.388-sustitutivo-2.pdf
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Margolin, M. (2018, August 20). Now Decriminalized, Could Jamaica Become Destination for Legal Weed? Rolling Stone. https://www.rollingstone.com/culture/culture-features/jamaica-legal-weed-rastafari-criminalized-711745/
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