Wednesday 7 December 2022

Legislators legalize medical cannabis and pressure Carlos Alvarado to sign law

Costa Rican farmers can now grow cannabis for medical purposes and to develop the hemp industry; The government does not clarify whether it will veto the law, there is no decision "neither one way nor the other".

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7 December 2022 - At The Banks - BCCR

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QCOSTARICA – Thursday morning, January 13, 2022, with 29 votes in favor and 10 against, legislators approved in second and final debate the law that allows the hemp industry and medicinal cannabis in Costa Rica.

Prior to the vote, the promoters of the bill pressured the President of Costa Rica, Carlos Alvarado, to convert the initiative into law with his signature.

In this way, once the law goes into effect, Costa Rican farmers can now plant cannabis in Costa Rica, as long as they have the necessary permits, allowing farmers and exporters would have access to a world market of US$14 billion a year by 2025, according to the Foreign Trade Promoter of Costa Rica (Procomer).

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Best of all is that at this time the products derived from this plant are already driving business for about US$5 billion, which would allow immediate benefits to be reaped.

The medicinal use and production of cannabis and hemp is legal in more than 20 countries, with a pre-pandemic global market of 1 billion people.

Benefits

Promoting the cannabis and hemp industry in Costa Rica for medicinal and commercial purposes would help revive the economy in the following ways:

Pharmaceutical industry

  • The medicinal use and production of cannabis and hemp is legal in more than 20 countries
    The global market is 1 billion people
    Costa Rica can become a development pole and business cluster
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Health

  • Treatment of diseases such as arthritis, asthma, cancer and chronic pain with medical cannabis
  • Access to new products made with hemp, including plastic, cosmetics and filters

Jobs

  • Hiring hundreds of people with professions that are not being absorbed by the market
    Thousands of direct jobs in agricultural activities thanks to the pharmaceutical industry

Taxes

  • A new industry means fresh taxes for the government

However, the question remains whether President Carlos Alvarado will veto the law.

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Independent legislators, Zoila Volio, one of the proponents, questioned the president for his “evaluating the possibility of vetoing the law”. The legislator demanded that Alvarado respect the majority of Congress.

Independent legislator Zoila Rosa Volio was the proponent of the initiative on medicinal cannabis. Photo: Rafael Pacheco Granados / GN

Volio emphasized the statements issued by the president on Monday when he stated: “The Government is waiting for a second debate to take place. From this, with the Health authorities, we will review the final text before issuing a decision. That is what we will have to do.”

The bill was definitively approved after the full vote of the Constitutional Court last Friday, on the optional consultation proposed by opposition legislators to the initiative. The magistrates of the Sala IV (as the Constitutional Court is commonly referred to) did not find defects of unconstitutionality in the bill, giving the green light for the initiative to second debate and vote in Congress.

Read more: Sala IV gives the green light to a bill that legalizes the production of hemp and medicinal cannabis

Meanwhile, the Minister of Communication, Agustín Castro, said Thursday that there is still no final position on the initiative. According to what he said, this plan will be submitted to the same analysis as any other bill approved in the Legislative Assembly.

“There is no definitive decision on this issue, one way or the other,” Castro declared.

For her part, the Partido Liberacion Nacional (PLN) legislator, Karine Niño affirmed: “We have overcome prejudice and we are going to give economic growth just when it (the country) needs it most. I want to tell President Carlos Alvarado to please not do more damage to Costa Rica, not to veto this law even partially, that it is more than proven that this project will bring benefits to all citizens.”

Carolina Hidalgo, of the ruling party, the Partido Accion Cuidadana (PAC), added: “We not only support it (the bill), but we also agree as an official faction in the initiative of our colleague Enrique Sánchez for the recreational use (of marijuana). Costa Rica cannot miss the opportunity to insert itself in these new reforms, in these types of markets and in observing medicine globally”.

The head of the PAC legislative faction, Laura Guido, declared: “The fact that there is some aspect of the bill that can be reviewed does not mean that there is no general will on the possibility of exploring and contributing to a debate on cannabis and medicinal hemp. I genuinely hope that this initiative advances quickly, that we can see it in law and of course we will contribute to making this possible”.

This initiative was approved in the first debate on October 19, 2021, with the support of 33 legislators, authorizing the production of cannabis plants, both those with a high content of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), for medicinal and therapeutic use, and those with low THC, such as hemp, for multiple industrial uses.

The idea of ​​the legislators is to generate economic reactivation through the opening of a new productive activity.

For the production of both plants and their derivatives, the producers will have to register with the State and provide extensive information to the authorities about their activities. The Ministry of Agriculture (MAG) will be in charge of regulating the hemp market and the Health Ministry, that of cannabis for medicinal and therapeutic use.

The ministries of Health, Agriculture and the Costa Rican Institute on Drugs (ICD) will have powers of periodic inspection and control over the producers and developers of derivatives of cannabis and hemp.

The initiative also authorizes the sale of medicinal cannabis raw material to the Caja Costarricense de Seguro Social (CCSS).

In addition, it authorizes the Caja, together with public and private universities, to carry out research and produce medicines and products for therapeutic use in its laboratories and authorizes the inclusion of medicines and products for therapeutic use with cannabinoids in the official lists of CCSS medicines.

 

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