Legal in the United States and sold as gummies, Delta-8 is a cannabinoid found in the cannabis plant, alongside THC and CBD. In this article we discuss the legality of this product and determine if you can bring Delta-8 to Costa Rica or Belize.
We’ve written a lot on the legalities of marijuana and CBD in Central America, trying to provide accurate info for residents and tourists in the region.
While countries around the world update their legality laws, it’s important that travelers to any of of the seven Central American nations stay informed to avoid misunderstandings, confiscations, and even possible arrest. It’s feasible for travelers to think that because a product is legal in their country, then it must be legal elsewhere. Unfortunately, that’s not true.
Kinda forgot about the whole 4/20 day thing, but for those who are interested/inclined, here’s a handy guide for you on the status of recreational marijuana around Central America…https://t.co/n1eJ79QjDE
— Central America Living (@VidaAmerica) April 20, 2023
CBD vs THC
CBD products, for example, are legal in Costa Rica and Belize, openly sold in health food stores and pharmacies in both countries. As long as the THC content of any CBD product remains below 0.3%, you can bring it into either country. Not so much the other five countries in Central America, where bringing in CBD products can be risky (although some stores – online and otherwise – sell CBD products despite them being technically illegal). It’s helpful to know this.
Same goes for regular marijuana, weed, whatever you want to call it. You obviously can’t bring that into any country in Central America, and it remains illegal across the region, at least for recreational purposes. Now, illegal doesn’t mean criminalized. Weed is decriminalized (within certain parameters) in Belize and Costa Rica, while medical marijuana is legal in Costa Rica and Panama. The other five countries? Forget it.
Looking for legal CBD in Central America? We’ve got you covered! Find out which countries allow you to buy high-quality CBD products and take a step towards natural well-being.https://t.co/nwFx186T2U
— Central America Living (@VidaAmerica) June 22, 2023
What is Delta-8?
And then there’s Delta-8, a – for the want of a better description – kind of “crossover” between CBD and regular marijuana. What do we mean by that? Well, without going too much into the weeds (no pun intended) on this, the compound of cannabis that gets you high when you, say, smoke a joint, is called Delta-9 THC and it’s found in the resin of the cannabis plant. CDB (cannabidiol) on the other hand, doesn’t make you feel high. Instead, it’s known for helping people relax, manage stress, and sleep without affecting their thinking or causing euphoria. CBD is sold as a wellness product rather than a recreational drug.
Delta-8 is also found in cannabis plants, but it’s not as common as Delta 9. It’s similar in structure but less potent, so it doesn’t give you a strong high or distort your senses like Delta 9 THC. Sold legally in the United States and elsewhere, mostly in the form of Delta-8 gummies, Delta 8 usually creates a milder experience, often described as a subtle high or euphoria. It’s a good option for people who want the effects of cannabis without feeling too stoned. Like CBD, Delta-8 also has potential therapeutic uses, including anti-inflammatory effects, relaxation, and so on. Delta-8 can also stimulate appetite and shows promise in reducing nausea.
Long story short, consider Delta-8 somewhere in the middle of regular weed (Delta-9) and CBD. The big question is about legality in Central America, particularly in Belize and Costa Rica.
Delta 8 Max?! DO you eat the entire gummy for cut it in half? pic.twitter.com/jMtehc4Nzu
— Hometown Hero ATX (@HometownHeroATX) December 29, 2022
Can you bring Delta-8 to Costa Rica or Belize?
First, let’s clarify why we talk about Costa Rica and Belize rather than the other Central American countries. The answer’s easy. You cannot bring Delta-8 products into El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, or Panama. Aside from Panama, where medical marijuana is legal (only by prescription), everything else from CBD to weed is illegal, including Delta-8 products. And it’s definitely not a good idea to bring them in.
Sure, the expat groups online all have people saying that it’s no problem to bring in gummies and no-one searches you. You can mix them with regular candy gummies or vitamins or whatever, and no-one’s the wiser. They tell you that no Guatemalan customs agent will search you or care about this stuff. All that might be true. But it’s still illegal. Costa Rica and Belize not so much. So here’s the bottom line…
In November 2017, Belize amended its laws to allow limited marijuana use on private property, making it a pioneer in Central America for such legalization. You can have up to ten grams of marijuana at home, but it remains illegal to grow, buy, or transport it.
The 2017 amendment aimed to decriminalize possession of small amounts and smoking on private property. While it didn’t specify medical use, it hinted at recreational use within certain limits, though it wasn’t entirely clear.
In 2022, a bill for full legalization and regulation of marijuana was in progress but faced opposition from various groups, including the church. A planned referendum got canceled due to high costs, and the bill’s future remains uncertain.
An incident in April 2023, where marijuana candies ended up with kids, added to the controversy, strengthening anti-legalization arguments. So, for now, Belize’s marijuana laws remain vague and in flux on the ground.
As far as Delta-8 products go, you won’t find them for sale in Belize like you would in the United States (although general CDB products are fine). But you can bring Delta-8 gummies into Belize with you, as long as the THC content is less than 0.3%. Most Delta-8 gummies follow this restriction, so you should be okay. Make sure you consume them on private property and you’re good to go.
Is marijuana legal in Belize? Get the inside scoop on the current state of cannabis legislation and decriminalization efforts in this Central American country.https://t.co/7bOEzxAJZu
— Central America Living (@VidaAmerica) May 12, 2023
Costa Rica legalized the use of medical marijuana in March 2022, becoming the second country in the region (after Panama) to do so. CBD products are also legal in Costa Rica and found for sale in supermarkets, health food stores, pharmacies, and so on.
Recreational usage remains illegal (but decriminalized), though. By that, we mean, that no-one will arrest you for having some weed unless it’s in enough volume that they think you’re selling. Then they’ll throw the book at you. But if they find a small amount of weed on you, for personal consumption, chances are they’ll leave you alone – although expect them to confiscate what they find.
The current administration of President Rodrigo Chaves would like to legalize the use of recreational marijuana. They envisage Costa Rica as a tropical Holland or Colorado. Lawmakers rejected a bill that aimed to “legalize, control and regulate the consumption, cultivation, production and commercialization of cannabis for recreational purposes” in August 2023. There’s every chance that pro-legalization advocates will try again in the next three years, but for now, the status remains the same – murky.
This means that for now, as far as Delta-8 gummies go, you won’t find them on sale in Costa Rica alongside your CBD-infused skin cream. But, as with Belize, you can bring them into Costa Rica as long as the THC is less than 0.3%.
Craig Dempsey from @BizLatinHub looks at Costa Rica’s medical marijuana laws, and the process for investors seeking access to the cannabis industry. He also looks at the recreational marijuana bill the administration is promoting.https://t.co/QvitiJrx1o
— Central America Living (@VidaAmerica) February 28, 2023
Again, it’s worth repeating here that the other Central American countries are nowhere near as tolerant as Costa Rica and Belize
At least not right now. There is a chance though, that Delta-8 products will become the norm in Costa Rica and Belize, and that might – might – spread through the rest of the region. It will take time though, as the other Central American countries are generally very conservative with issues like this. So you might want to stick to consuming Delta-8 at home.