Costa Rica’s president promises to get cannabis legalisation done despite veto

Costa Rican president Carlos Alvarado, who has supported the legalisation of cannabis throughout his administration, has partially vetoed a bill that would have legalised medicinal cannabis and industrial hemp in the Central American nation.

Alvarado (pictured), who emphasised in a recorded speech that he “categorically supports the use of medicinal cannabis” and industrial hemp production to boost the economy, said some aspects of the text approved by the Legislative Assembly need to be modified to ensure the law accomplishes the objectives outlined in the original initiative.

“This specific bill was promoted to alleviate pain in people and boost the economy,” he said. He added that some articles in the approved bill, referring to home cultivation for personal use, fail to contribute to economic recovery “and generate public health risks, as has been explained by the ministers of these fields”.

The Medicinal Cannabis Bill was approved by the Legislative Assembly at a first debate in October and a second debate on 13th January. Latterly, however, a presidential veto was anticipated after Alvarado and the country’s health and agriculture ministers expressed concern about the bill’s articles 5, 25 and 26.

The president’s office explained that if the articles permitting self-cultivation and self-consumption were removed or modified, Alvardo would give his approval to the law.

 

‘I want to be able to sign this law’

 

Articles 25 and 26 allow for patients with chronic pain to carry out “domestic cultivation” of psychoactive cannabis plants, which Alvarado and the health and agriculture ministers say could lead to illicit sales and health risks.

“Let’s make this very clear: I agree with all of the objectives and I want to be able to sign this law,” the president said. “And because we share the fundamental objective to boost industrial hemp production and medicinal cannabis, I’m confident that the majority of the Legislative Assembly will embrace these observations, that this law will be signed and take effect very soon for the benefit of the country.”

The vetoed bill and Alvarado’s recommended modifications to the text will now be sent back to the Legislative Assembly, which is back in session today. If a majority of the 57-member assembly accept the proposed changes, the bill will again need to be approved in two debates.

If members reject Alvarado’s suggested modifications, the approved text can still become law with the support of 38 of the 57 members. If the bill does not achieve that level of support, however, it will be shelved after three years of discussion in congress.

Alvarado, who is in the final months of his four-year presidential term, will leave office in May. He has promised a “personal commitment” to getting a fully agreed version of the cannabis law in place before he leaves office “so that it can be applied very soon”.

Adam Williams CBD-Intel contributing writer

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

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