Graduation Date

Fall 2023

Document Type



Master of Arts degree with a major in Sociology

Committee Chair Name

Joshua S. Meisel

Committee Chair Affiliation

HSU Faculty or Staff

Second Committee Member Name

Dominic Corva

Second Committee Member Affiliation

HSU Faculty or Staff


Cannabis, Costa Rica, Central America, Latin America, World systems analysis, Dependency theory, Whiteness theory, Theory of the imaginary

Subject Categories



The socio-political history of cannabis in Costa Rica is one of external global influence; from colonization to independence; from neocolonialism to neoliberalism. Cannabis in Costa Rica has gone from failed agricultural crop to non-indigenous intoxicant import to controversial cultural mainstay. As Mexico influenced cannabis prohibition in the United States, so too has the U.S. approach to cannabis prohibition influenced Costa Rica. Costa Rica now grapples with attempting to reorient its general anti-cannabis status quo to one of regulated marketplace acceptance. My research findings indicate that cannabis originally entered Costa Rica in the late 19th century by way of imported labor for the United Fruit Company. Nationally illegalized in 1928 and widely consumed, cannabis was not given national attention until Western countercultural ideologies made their way to middle- and upper-class Costa Rican youth and professionals. A near decade long media campaign inscribed anti-cannabis propaganda into the greater status quo. With attitudes toward cannabis liberalizing globally, the Costa Rican state is attempting to establish pro-cannabis policy with or without public consent. Analysis of Costa Rican news media indicates that an active campaign to alter the public’s attitude toward cannabis has been taking place, but with mixed results. Factions within the Costa Rican government are at loggerheads over how to approach cannabis regulation and many continue to reinforce outdated misconceptions and untruths regarding cannabis. While the Costa Rican public has largely warmed to the ideas of industrial hemp production and cannabis for medicinal purposes, acceptance of recreational cannabis is unlikely in the near future.

Citation Style



Thesis/Project Location


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