Think of the Caribbean and you’re likely to conjure up an image of the laid back Rastafarian culture, with marijuana being passed freely among friends. In fact, thanks to the huge amounts of drugs trafficked through the region as it flows from South America northwards, cannabis is highly illegal on almost all Caribbean islands, and the Dominican Republic is no exception.
The third most populous Caribbean country may have its fair share of dazzling white beaches and palm trees, but don’t be beguiled by the beautiful surroundings and tempted to light up. Possession of even the smallest amount of marijuana can land you some serious jail time.
Penalties for being caught with cannabis in the Dominican Republic
The penalties for being caught with both marijuana and hashish in the Dominican Republic vary depending on the amount seized, but all convictions carry both jail sentences and a fine.
There are three categories for both substances:
- Category one offenses are defined as possession of up to 20 grams of marijuana or 5 grams of hashish
- Category two is over 20 grams and under a pound of marijuana, or over 5 grams and under a quarter pound of hashish
- Category three is one pound or more of marijuana, and quarter pound or more of hashish
A category one offense is considered possession, and carries a penalty of six months to two years in jail, plus a fine of between RD$1500 (approx. US$26) and RD$2500 (approx. US$46.40)
Category two offenders are considered to be distributors or vendors, with jail time ranging from three to ten years’ jail time, plus a fine of RD$10,000 (approx. US$173.67) and RD$50,000 (approx. US$868.35)
Category three offenders are considered traffickers, and are liable to serve five to twenty years in jail, plus pay a fine of the equivalent value to the drugs seized, but not less than RD$50,000.
That said, the quantities are discounted if the person caught carrying marijuana or hashish is believed to have intended to sell it. This means that effectively, anyone caught with marijuana or hashish, even for personal use, could be considered a dealer or trafficker.
The law in the Dominican Republic also recognizes category four offenses for those deemed to be financiers or suppliers within the drug trade, for which the penalty is thirty years in jail time, plus a fine equivalent to the value of the drugs, and not less than RD$1 million.
Is medical Marijuana legal in the Dominican Republic?
The law in the Dominican Republic does not differentiate between recreational and medical marijuana: the drug is illegal for all purposes, currently in line with much of the rest of the Caribbean.
However, whereas almost every other Caribbean nation is currently looking at reforming their marijuana laws to at least legalize medical use – and two, Barbados and St Vincent and the Grenadines have already done so – the Dominican Republic is out of step in having no plans to reform its laws. Only Cuba and Haiti also have no plans to legalize marijuana in motion.
Can tourists bring medical marijuana with them?
The country’s hard line on marijuana can cause issues for tourists, especially Americans who are used to accessing and using medical marijuana at home. Tourists bringing marijuana with them can be viewed as smugglers under Dominican Republic law, a crime which is punishable with between five and twenty years in jail, plus a fine of at least RD$250,000 ($4,335).
The THC Times advises: “the country is not particularly forgiving to tourists. If the temptation of getting high on the beach is just too strong, maybe it’s a good idea to visit a beach in a different country.”
Is CBD oil legal in the Dominican Republic?
CBD oil is considered a cannabis product, and is therefore illegal in the Dominican Republic, in line with all other cannabis products. The prohibition applies also to foreigners, even for medical use.
That said, there are first-person reports of people traveling to the Dominican Republic with medicinal CBD products and passing through customs with no problems. For example, chronic pain blogger Jennifer Kain Kilgore traveled to the Caribbean nation for a vacation, and contacted Puna Canta International Airport ahead of time to inquire whether hemp CBD oil would be permitted.
She was told “you are allowed to travel with your CBD oil in carry-on luggage (not exceeding 100 ml) or checked bag. Please keep in mind that this could be checked by a security inspector once you reach our security point.”
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