Costa Rican Congress gives first approval for medical cannabis use
Costa Rica's Congress approved medicinal legalization on Tuesday, despite opposition from conservative groups and President Carlos Alvarado, who has yet to give his approval. The law allows the production and processing of cannabis, but does not regulate its recreational use.
Costa Rica's Congress on Tuesday approved, in the first of two necessary votes, a bill to legalize the use of medical cannabis as well as the production and industrialization of hemp. Independent lawmaker Zoila Volio, who supported the law and called it a milestone, said declared that it would not open the floodgates to an increase in drug use in Costa Rica.
“I hope that President Alvarado understood this and that he will not veto him,” Ms. Volio said.
If Mr Alvarado veto the law, lawmakers will again have to vote on the law and approve it by qualified majority.
Tuesday's vote brought together 33 MPs for and 11 against, with 44 lawmakers present out of the 57 in Costa Rica's Legislative Assembly. The second and final vote is scheduled for next Thursday, in case no deputy comes to the Constitutional Chamber to have the bill examined.
The law would allow Costa Rican authorities to grant licenses for the production and industrialization of cannabis for medical or therapeutic purposes.
In addition, the law would declare free the cultivation, production, industrialization and marketing of hemp and its derivatives, but also all its products and by-products, for food and industrial purposes, without any prior authorization. specific authorities.
Hemp, which is low in THC, has industrial uses such as making textiles, foods, seeds, oils, biofuels, medicines, and cosmetics, among others.
The global hemp industry is developing and figures from the Costa Rican government show a forecast growth of 22% and profits from its derivatives can reach $ 10000 per hectare.
Meanwhile, law firm BLP, which has already registered three cosmetic and food products containing CBD, estimates that the global cannabis market could grow from $ 12 billion in 2019 to $ 55,8 billion in 2025.
Several months ago, the Costa Rican government expressed support for the hemp industry, but opposed the legalization of medical cannabis, believing it lacked the tools to effectively control this activity.
The deputy of the ruling Citizens' Action Party, Enrique Sánchez, expressed his support for the initiative and welcomed its approval during the first debate.
“This is an important step in the right direction, which will allow better access to treatment and generate economic development. This is a big step forward in a discussion that we must continue to have as a country, now regarding the recreational use of this plant, ”he said.
The deputies of the conservative parties voted against the initiative and left open the possibility of sending the text to the Constitutional Chamber for study.