Wednesday 22 March 2023

Plan to legalize the use of recreational marijuana in Costa Rica in the works

Regulations for hemp and cannabis ready

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QCOSTARICA – The government will present a bill to the Legislative Assembly to legalize the use of marijuana for recreational purposes.

This was announced by President Rodrigo Chaves, as part of his report on the first 100 days of government.

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The president also confirmed that the regulations for the Law on hemp and cannabis for industrial and medicinal purposes are ready.

Read more: Carlos Alvarado signed Cannabis and Hemp Law

Legalizing recreational marijuana is the next step and part of the list of promises that the president pointed out on Tuesday in his report.

In his presidential campaign, Chaves had made it clear that he was in favor of the legalization of recreational marijuana.

“International experience shows that this is the best public policy, like the cases already tried in Uruguay, the United States and in several European countries,” said Chaves during the presidential campaign.

The President did not specify, however, if this initiative is new or if he will resume the one presented in 2021 by former legislator Enrique Sánchez (PAC) and which precisely sought to decriminalize the recreational use of cannabis.

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When presenting the bill, Sánchez explained that given the failed fight against drug trafficking and the fact that many countries have legalized marijuana, there is no point in maintaining the ban in Costa Rica.

The president’s proposal could see success in this legislative group, as many have expressed openly their support for such legislation, but are cautious in saying that it needs full discussion.

“The Frente Amplio has always been in agreement with the legalization of cannabis for recreational use, it has been a flag that we have always raised,” said legislator Ariel Robles.

For her part, the head of the Partido Unidad Social Cristiana (PUSC) faction, Daniela Rojas, assured that it is an issue that must be discussed in the caucus and analyzed in depth, but she was clear that she is in favor.

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“It is an issue that we must discuss and analyze from all perspectives. Personally, I am in favor and I believe that we can move forward on this issue,” said the legislator.

The same was pointed out by the legislator of the Progressive Liberal party, Johanna Obando.

“It must be analyzed from different angles, but it is considered a viable proposal, if the opinions of different ministries are taken into account beforehand,” said Obando.

Against the proposal, as expected, two-time presidential candidate and leader of the Nueva Republica faction, Fabricio Alvarado.

Alvarado was emphatic that he and his political group are against this proposal. Although they have supported the efforts and decisions of the Rodrigo Chaves government on other issues, he says that they will put up a fight against recreational marijuana.

“The people know that, the Nueva Republica is totally against it… Neither the president nor the government will count on the Nueva Republica. We are going to oppose everything that is necessary,” Alvarado made it clear on Tuesday after the president’s announcement.

Bumpy road ahead

Former legislator Zoila Volio, who promoted the medical cannabis and hemp bill, says that she sees a difficult road ahead in thinking about a possible approval.

“I greatly respect the initiative of President Chaves, however, I think its approval in Congress will be extremely complicated,” she said.

The legislator reminded the difficult road traveled to get her bill on medical cannabis and hemp, which included a consultation with the Constitutional Court and a partial veto by former President Carlos Alvarado.

In Costa Rica, the consumption of Cannabis is decriminalized. Personal consumption does not carry any criminal penalties. The sale of marijuana, however, can be punished criminally.


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