Saturday 4 February 2023

Government stops legalization of medical cannabis without daring to talk about a veto

Legislators describe as 'regrettable' government's arguments for not signing cannabis bill

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QCOSTARICA – Legislators described the government’s arguments for not signing the bill on hemp and cannabis for medicinal and industrial uses as ‘regrettable’.

Legislators describe government’s arguments against the hemp and medicinal cannabis bill approved last week by the Legislative Assembly as “regrettable”

The Poder Ejecutivo (Executive Branch) is looking for a mechanism to fix the approved bill without the need to veto it, specifically in the article that refers to self-consumption.

Independent legislators, Zoila Volio, who presented the initiative, refuted the government’s justifications.

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For their part, legislator of the ruling party, the Partido Accion Cuidadana (PAC) and María Inés Solís, of the Partido Unidad Social Cristiana (PUSC), also said that the government must move forward with the signing of the bill.

During the morning session this Monday, in the plenary, the head of the PAC legislative party bench, Laura Guido called on Carlos Alvarado to sign the approved bill, which legalizes not only the production and use of cannabis for medicinal purposes but also the production of hemp for industrial purposes.

Read more: Costa Rica’s Catholic Church asks for ‘reflection’ on the Hemp and Cannabis Law

Guido declared that it is not acceptable for the Executive to allege that the project approved in the Legislative Assembly liberalizes self-consumption and self-cultivation when that is not currently a crime.

PAC legislators criticize Carlos Alvarado on medical cannabis initiative

The PAC former 2022 presidential candidate, Carolina Hidalgo, lamented the position of the Executive Branch and the Ministries of Security and Health while saying that Costa Rica cannot stagnate in time and continue with repressive visions against drugs.

“We must move forward and eliminate myths. Yes, to cannabis in all its uses,” said Hidalgo.

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For its part, the PAC  Political Commission sent a letter to President Carlos Alvarado asking him to sign the bill. In addition, it calls on the government to discuss the legalization of cannabis in all its uses.

The Government, in recent days, has reported that it is analyzing the bill in light of international legislation and that it would send a counterproposal to the Legislative Assembly.

Although the government has not categorically announced that president Carlos Alvarado will finally veto the initiative, the PAC’s presidential candidate and who would be the successor to Alvarado and the third consecutive PAC government, if he wins the popular vote on February 6, legislator Welmer Ramos, released a video Monday afternoon where he assures that the veto is a “decision already taken” by the President.

“Today I regret the decision that (the president) has made and I will do all my efforts so that the Legislative Assembly takes up this project again and very soon we will have it approved again and it will be a law of the Republic,” he said.

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However, at a press conference by the five heads of the Ministry of Presidency, Health, Security, Agriculture and the Costa Rican Institute of Drugs (ICD), Monday afternoon, the Executive Branch said it will present its own medical cannabis plan.

The press conference at Casa Presidencial Monday afternoon was not attended by President Carlos Alvarado. Minister Geaninna Dinarte assured that the five heads will communicate the plan to the president in the following week.

The Ministra de la Presidencia, Geannina Dinarte, rejected that the government veto is “premature”, stating that “we are still exploring the best mechanism to present the solution” to President Carlos Alvarado and, later, to the Legislative Assembly.

“They are not articles that express the original motivation of the initiative. What was looked for was to allow the industrial use of hemp, due to its economic effects. And allow, subsequently, medicinal cannabis. But never, throughout the construction of the bill, was it transparent to the public to warn that self-consumption and self-cultivation (of marijuana) were liberalized,” said Dinarte.

President Alvarado was not present at the conference.

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