Costa Rican Parliament Approves Legalization of Medical Cannabis and Industrial Hemp
After three years of discussions and the presidential veto over the previous version, Costa Rica's Congress on Tuesday passed a bill to legalize medical cannabis as well as the cultivation of hemp for industrial purposes.
Lawmakers from Costa Rica's ruling party and several opposition groups have signed the bill, which President Carlos Alvarado applauded as "of great benefit to Costa Rica".
The bill aims to revive the pandemic-hit country's economy and reduce the illegal demand for the drug. It will require cannabis producers to register with health institutions and submit to examinations by the Costa Rican Institute of Drugs (ICD).
The cultivation and sale of marijuana for recreational purposes will remain prohibited.
With regard to the veto, it mainly hinged on three articles of the draft, among which the one authorizing "the cultivation, production, industrialization, marketing of hemp or non-psychoactive cannabis and its products or sub- products" without the hemp companies needing specific or additional prior authorisation".
The other two articles challenged by the executive referred to the possibility of "domestic cultivation for self-consumption for medical and therapeutic purposes".
The deletion of these three articles allowed the deputies who opposed this initiative to change their vote.
Volio Pacheco has declared that to get the project approved, many obstacles had to be overcome due to the rejection of the subject, but he pointed out that thanks to the acceptance that was given now, it will be possible to generate jobs and relieve many patients.
Congressman Roberto Thompson Chacón stressed that to approve the initiative, many existing prejudices in society had to be abandoned and it was thanks to multi-stakeholder work that progress was made.
In January, Alvarado vetoed an earlier version of the law, saying it needed to be amended to limit individual cultivation and consumption of cannabis.
Mr. Alvarado could sign the new version of the law as early as this week, said lawmaker Zoila Rosa Volio, adding that she maintained the essential elements of the original legislation.
“The veto did not affect the key elements of this proposal, which will bring in investment, generate jobs, allow access to millionaire markets and reactivate the agricultural sector,” Ms. Volio said.
The country's trade promotion group, Procomer, has recommended that Costa Rica enter the medical marijuana and hemp industries due to growing international demand.