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The production, sale, and possession of any form of cannabis, including medical marijuana products and CBD, are illegal in Nicaragua.
The country has strict criminal penalties for illegal drugs, even for simple possession of small amounts.
Medical Marijuana Laws in Nicaragua
Marijuana is illegal in Nicaragua for medicinal use, even with a prescription.
Despite the growing international recognition of cannabis and its potential medical benefits, the Nicaraguan government has not moved to change the legal status of marijuana use for medical purposes.
Cannabidiol (CBD), a non-intoxicating compound found in cannabis, is also illegal, meaning CBD products are subject to the same penalties as marijuana.
What to Know About About Medical Cannabis in Nicaragua
Nicaragua signed on to the 1988 United Nations Convention Against Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances, which includes marijuana, and has not changed its stance since.
In 2002, Nicaragua adopted its National Anti-Drug Plan, including measures for demand reduction, supply reduction, and control.
Nicaragua’s Penal Code (Law No. 641) and Law on the Control of Narcotics, Psychotropic Substances, and Other Controlled Substances ( Law 285) are two major pieces of anti-drug legislation pertaining to use, sales, and exports.
Penal Code Title XIV outlines Nicaragua’s marijuana rules and punishment, prohibiting various activities, including financing, production, transportation, storage, and promotion. Violators face imprisonment and fines based on the severity of the offense.
The law also addresses organized crime and emphasizes the Ministry of Health’s role in treatment, rehabilitation, and prevention programs.
Unauthorized cultivation, possession, and trade of Cannabis sativa L (marijuana) are also strictly prohibited, except with explicit authorization from the Ministry of Health.
Nicaragua Cannabis Penalties
Drug trafficking is an issue in Nicaragua, and cocaine continues to flow up the country’s Caribbean coast.
As a result, national police are strict against all illegal drugs. Punishment often includes long prison sentences and “day fines,” which equals one-third of the accused’s daily income.
Some of the penalties for cannabis-related offenses in Nicaragua include:
- Possession below 5 grams: 70 to 100-day fines and community service of 30 to 60 days (two hours every day).
- Possession between 5 and 20 grams: six months to three years in prison and 50-day fines.
- Possession above 20 grams: three to eight years in prison and 100 to 300-day fines.
- Selling and distribution: five to 15 years in prison and 300 to 800-day fines.
- Processing: five to 20 years and 100 to 1,000-day fines.
- Transportation: five to 15 years and 300 to 1,000-day fines.
- Cultivation: five to 10 years and 100 to 1,000-day fines.
Federal law enforcement agencies in Nicaragua strictly enforce these penalties, and random searches and seizures are common. A police officer might set up unsuspecting people for crimes, especially in urban areas such as San Juan, also called San Juan del Sur.
U.S. citizens and those with a tourist card are not exempt from these laws and can face harsh penalties.
Proponents of Medical Cannabis
Public opinion on cannabis in Nicaragua is mixed, but there is a growing sentiment in favor of decriminalizing or legalizing the drug.
Many people believe current local laws and penalties are too harsh, especially considering the potential benefits of the plant for medicinal purposes. Healthcare in Nicaragua is not good, and some people propose cannabis to help with ailments like Parkinson’s disease and epilepsy.
Currently, no law changes are on the table in Nicaragua regarding recreational cannabis for personal use or medical marijuana.
Nicaragua recently descended back into a dictator regime at the federal level, and President Biden and the White House criticized the government’s recent election, saying the “Ortega and Murillo family now rule Nicaragua as autocrats.”
Interestingly, High Times reported that Juan Carlos Ortega Murillo, son of Nicaraguan dictator Daniel Ortega, said he’d like to see marijuana legalized. He believes the federal government should consider how citizens’ welfare can benefit from such a movement.
Factors Against Legalization
A significant portion of the Nicaraguan population still supports the existing anti-drug policies and remains opposed to cannabis legalization.
Rainforest depletion: Producing large quantities of recreational marijuana could have environmental implications in the area. Rainforests are shrinking rapidly, and large-scale illegal cultivations in the rainforests already do more damage in the short and long term than almost anywhere else.
Food cultivation: Some bring up the issue of food security, fearing cannabis production would surpass the output of self-sufficient food cultivation.
Can You Grow Cannabis in Nicaragua?
Nicaragua strictly prohibits home cultivation, which can result in severe penalties, including imprisonment for five to 10 years.
The cultivation, production, trade, and use of Cannabis sativa L (marijuana in all its forms) are strictly banned unless expressly authorized by the Ministry of Health in coordination with the Ministry of Agriculture and Forests.
Likewise, possessing, storing, and trading cannabis seeds capable of germination is also forbidden, except with the explicit authorization of the Ministry of Health.
The Bottom Line
Cannabis and all cannabis-related activities are highly illegal in Nicaragua. The country does not allow medical marijuana, and CBD is also illegal.
While minor possession below 5 grams might only result in community service, up to 20 grams can land people in prison for three years. Drug dealers can face up to 15 years in prison.