Ecuador Cannabis History, Laws

& Business Opportunities

In Ecuador, cannabis is known particularly for its use by the Ancient Incan, Mayan, and Aztec cultures for ceremonial and medicinal purposes. Though Ecuador has taken great strides toward establishing a recreational cannabis industry, it’s still in its infancy.

Here’s everything you need to know about Ecuador cannabis history, laws, and business opportunities.

The History of Cannabis in
Ecuador & Latin America

Some have believed for years that cannabis was once used by the Ancient Mayan and Aztec cultures as an entheogenic drug. But the general scientific and agricultural consensus, according to Leafly, is that cannabis was first introduced to the pre-Latin American cultures during the European colonization of the continent.

Once introduced, cannabis has played a role throughout Latin American culture and history and has been used for medicinal, spiritual, and social purposes.

If you’re interested in starting an Ecuador cannabis company in the country’s thriving market, a cannabis consultant like the experts at Higher Yields Consulting can help you navigate the country’s rich history and complex and ever-changing cannabis laws.

Questions on cannabis in
Ecuador?

Ecuador Cannabis Laws

According to Ecuador cannabis laws, up to 10 grams for personal use has been decriminalized since 2013. Further, medicinal cannabis has been legal since 2019.

The Ecuadorian Constitution established that drug use is a health problem rather than a crime. Though personal possession and use won’t be punished for small amounts of cannabis, you can receive a minimum 10-year prison sentence for dealing or trafficking cannabis in Ecuador.

Though Ecuador harshly punishes drug dealers and traffickers, cultivating cannabis for personal use has also been decriminalized.

Ecuador’s Comprehensive Organic Criminal Code, published in June of 2020, laid the groundwork for the country’s medicinal cannabis market. But the biggest development at the time was that this law removed cannabis with less than 1% THC from the list of controlled substances.

Finally, in December of 2019, Ecuador joined a host of other countries that have legalized their hemp and medicinal cannabis industries. Hemp is now regulated by the Ecuadorian Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock, and licenses can be obtained by following a straightforward application process.

Higher Yields Consulting Ecuador Cannabis History, Laws & Business Opportunities

Ecuador Cannabis
Business Licensing

Entrepreneurs looking to start their Ecuador cannabis business will find a regulatory landscape that makes entry into the industry fairly straightforward.

It’s important to note that the laws passed in 2019, allowing the cultivation of medicinal cannabis, state that THC may not exceed 1.0% and do not include CBD. CBD remains illegal in Ecuador.

Only Ecuadorian residents and citizens will be granted cannabis business licenses. The Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock makes applying for your license easy by allowing requests through either in person or virtually. You can obtain a cannabis business license by filling out three forms:


You’ll apply for a license based on the type of production you intend to pursue, as well as the size of your grow and your type of cannabis activity (i.e., cultivating, processing, importing, exporting, testing, etc.).

The fees associated with starting your business are reasonable, but the Ecuadorian government requires that all cannabis businesses use a seed-to-sale software for all of their cannabis products.

Higher Yields Consulting Ecuador Cannabis History, Laws & Business Opportunities

Starting an Ecuador
Cannabis Business:

Medicinal vs. Recreational

Ecuador is known for its harsh drug laws, and even today, the medicinal cannabis industry is a tough one to enter. Despite having been legal since 2019, the first medicinal cannabis manufacturing plant in Ecuador only opened in late February 2022.

On the other hand, for those purely interested in opening a recreational cannabusiness, some progress has been made toward recreational cannabis legalization, so opportunities could open up in the near future.

According to various online sources, there is growing momentum in Ecuador for legalizing recreational cannabis at some point. But for now, anyone interested in joining the Ecuadorian cannabis industry must either keep their medicinal cannabis at less than 1.0% THC or grow purely industrial hemp.

Contact Us to discuss cannabis
Licenses in Ecuador

If you are looking to attain a license for hemp or cannabis in Ecuador Higher Yields Cannabis Consulting can help. Our team of cannabis licensing consultants and technical writers has had great success helping newcomers and experienced operators attain licenses all over the world.

Ecuador Cannabis Opportunities

If your sights are set on starting an Ecuador cannabis company, know that opportunities could open up in the future as recreational cannabis is eventually legalized.
Working with a cannabis consultant can help you navigate the country’s ever-changing cannabis laws so you’re ahead of the game when the time comes to submit your application.
Contact Higher Yields Consulting to get a foot in the door of the Ecuador cannabis market.

Last updated: July 2022

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