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The law in Costa Rica awaits a decision by the President; Will you sign?

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Costa Rica’s president said he is considering a bill that would legalize medical marijuana and industrial hemp, without giving a clear indication of whether or not he would sign the measure into law.

President Carlos Alvarado said he is reviewing the measure with health authorities after it was passed by the legislature earlier this month, with 29 out of 57 lawmakers voting in favour.

Economic potential

Lawmakers urged the president to sign the law, which supporters say could bring economic and social development to rural areas of Costa Rica by allowing the production, processing and marketing of hemp for industrial and food applications.

The law covers cultivation, harvesting, processing, storage and transportation.

Rosa Folio Pacheco, an MP who co-sponsored the bill, said the proposed law could lead to an evolution in the pharmaceutical industry and a host of different value chains starting in agriculture.

Folio Pacheco said the medical marijuana provisions in the bill would also bring hope to patients whose suffering can be eased through legal prescription marijuana products. The law would limit the use of marijuana for medical and therapeutic purposes, and adult (recreational) use of marijuana would not be legalized.

Expiry of the President’s term

Alvarado is at the end of his term, and he is not allowed to run for a second consecutive term in the Costa Rican presidential election next month. His administration has focused on decarbonizing Costa Rica’s economy, having set a goal for the country to achieve net zero carbon dioxide emissions by 2050.

Before it was passed by the legislature, the Costa Rican cannabis bill was approved in its first legislative debate last year, and the Constitutional Court signed off on the measure in November. The law was published Friday, January 7th.

The Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock (MAG) and the Ministry of Health will jointly oversee the cannabis and medical cannabis sectors.

License

MAG will control authorization to import and reproduce planting seeds with the Costa Rican Social Security Fund (CRSS), which is responsible for most of the country’s public health sector, licensed laboratories or other entities. Such licenses will only be available to organizations such as cantonal agricultural centres, associations of small and medium producers, cooperatives and indigenous development associations.

Agricultural and commercial licenses, more widely available to farmers and other supply chain operators, will be granted for a period of six years, and are renewable.

PROCOMER, Costa Rica’s foreign trade promotion agency, said the proposed law would give local farmers and producers access to global hemp markets to export goods and services.

Business groups work together

Incumbent President Alvarado will sign the bill into law The Costa Rican Hemp and Hemp Council, a trade association, announced this week that it has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the US-based National Industrial Council.

The organizations said they will collaborate to improve the quality of cannabis research, marketing, networking and consumer protection services while promoting cannabis as a brand in the global market.

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