QCOSTARICA – In the normal process of a bill, it is discussed and voted on in the legislature, it may even go for a constitutional consult, and after put to a second and final vote, the approved bill lands on the President’s desk for his or her signature, followed by publishing in La Gaceta.
There are many obstacles that an initiative runs into in the process, the last is the veto power of the Presidency. But just saying no is not the way it works, the President, in exercising his or her veto power has to provide reasons. He or she just cannot refuse to sign, for in the process a no veto on the part of the Presidency is deemed acceptance and after the prescribed time it becomes law.
With respect to the law that legalizes medicinal cannabis and hemp production for industrial purposes, President Carlos Alvarado has not said he will not sign the law, but before he would or exercise the right to the veto, has set out four reasons why Government opposes in its current text, that was supported even by the legislators of the Partido Accion Cuidadana (PAC).
The Executive Power raises four points. What are they?
1. Possible overdose
Daniel Salas, Minister of Health, stated at a press conference on Monday, January 24, at Casa Presidencial, that the legislation, as it is proposed, exposes patients to possible overdoses, since the doses to be consumed are not specified.
“Perfectly the patient can be exposed to an overdose or consume the entire plant, we also know that cannabis has a psychoactive component within its components, so how does the doctor tell him ‘consume 0.5 milligrams or 1 milligram or whatever’? I don’t know the doses, but what the patient is going to have is the bush, the doctor is not going to tell him: ‘take a bush every eight hours’. Imagine the risk that this may represent for patient safety,” said Salas.
2. Self-cultivation and organized crime
The Government assured that the regulations approved by the Legislative Assembly open the door for people to use self-cultivation for medicinal use as a screen for the planting and marketing of marijuana.
On this argument, the Ministry of Health said that there are no parameters or technical criteria to establish the number of plants authorized for self-cultivation.
“The law gives the Ministry of Health the obligation to go and supervise the houses where it is authorized to plant plants for self-consumption and if there is an irregularity, it has to confiscate them. Imagine, there are no logical criteria to say: ‘yes, there are ten or five plants per patient’.
“There is no logical parameter and that even exposes the health officials themselves to situations that can be risky for their physical and mental integrity,” said Salas.
Along the same lines, Michael Soto, Minister of Public Security, also present at the press conference, pointed out that self-cultivation and self-consumption would generate “a proliferation of crops that would make it difficult to take action against illicit drug trafficking and against organized crime.”
3. Recommended THC level
Tetrahydrocannabinol – better known as THC – is the main active component in the cannabis plant. The concern of the Executive Branch is that the maximum concentration of THC recommended by the World Health Organization and regulations applied in European countries is 0.2% in products derived from that plant. However, the law approved by congressmen sets a concentration of up to 1%.
“Products with high concentration levels are no longer considered soft drugs,” the government said in a press release released on Monday.
4. Contradicts international agreements
Without giving details, the authorities indicated that the law to legalize medicinal cannabis and the production of hemp for industrial purposes “goes against different conventions to which the country has adhered, such as the United Nations Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, the Vienna Convention on Psychotropic Substances and the United Nations Convention against Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances”.
The government did not specify which articles or points the new legislation would violate.