The Republic of Ecuador is one of the poorest South American countries with a GDP per capita of $5,200. Despite this relatively small figure compared to most western nations, this has increased significantly over the last few decades. Ecuador’s modest GDP does help foreign travelers, however, especially weed enthusiasts. Quito, the capital city of Ecuador has the cheapest marijuana in the world, despite its recreational use not being legal.
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Ecuador Historic Marijuana Laws
Ecuador’s drug laws have gone through a lot of changes over the years. In 1970, the “Law of Control and Intervention in the Trafficking of Narcotics” was introduced, emphasizing that drug consumption was a public health problem, not a crime.
In 1987, the Ecuadorian Congress adopted the new “Law of Control and Intervention in the Trafficking of Narcotics and Psychotropic Substances”, a law of a more prohibitive nature.
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The “Law of Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances”, better known as Law 108, came into effect in 1991. It provided the same punishment for both personal use and large-scale trafficking. That being a minimum of 10 years in jail (changed to 12 years in 2003).
A person with a few grams of weed might have served the same 12 years in prison as someone charged with selling harder drugs. As a result, the prisons became overwhelmed, and the laws were changed again.
Ecuador Marijuana Laws
In 2013, a law was introduced to effectively decriminalize personal cannabis possession and use. A person could possess up to 10 grams of weed, and not face criminal prosecution. This is provided it is deemed for personal use only, and no minors are involved.
Selling, trafficking, and distributing cannabis in Ecuador is still punishable by lengthy prison sentences.
Cannabis Cultivation and Medical Legalization
In June 2020, a new drug law came into force. Ecuador has become one of the latest Latin American countries to legalize hemp, and with it, CBD medicine. Where Ecuador sets itself apart though, is their definition of hemp.
Most countries with legal industrial hemp and medical CBD products allow up to 0.3% THC content. Ecuador is allowing up to 1.0% THC content. Controlling the levels of THC a hemp plant produces is difficult. Ecuador being more lenient on this means the country will produce less waste, and be more financially competitive with other markets.
Medical use of marijuana containing no more than 1.0% THC content is now also legal in Ecuador. The climate conditions are perfect for growing within the country, so this change of law could see Ecuador becoming a huge exporter of medical cannabis in the future.
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