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Social Security System president denies Caja approved medicinal marijuana in Costa Rica

March 21, 2015

The president of Costa Rica’s Social Security System, María del Rocío Sáenz Madrigal, on Friday denied stories by several local media outlets stating that the agency’s board of directors had approved the medicinal use of cannabis.

Caja board members on Thursday were complying with a Legislative Assembly request to evaluate the drafting of a bill that would propose the regulation of growing, processing and marketing of cannabis for medicinal use, Sáenz explained.

“After analyzing various technical reports issued by Caja experts, this board concluded that we do not oppose the bill in its current form. However, in order to respect our autonomy, we recommended changes to the draft of at least three separate articles, specifically regulating the approval [of cannabis], to make it clear that adoption of new legislation would not imply any type of obligation for the Caja,” she said.

Sáenz said the board’s actions are normal procedure followed regularly in several other cases where the Assembly has submitted a bill for consultation. The approval of medical marijuana, she said, “will be decided only by lawmakers.”

Bill #19,256 was drafted by ruling Citizen Action Party lawmaker Marvin Atencio Delgado and submitted for consideration by the Assembly in August.

The bill does not include proposals to legalize recreational use, but rather “to regulate the research and control of medicinal, food and industrial use of cannabis plants.”

It also states that medicinal cannabis would be made available only to registered patients and would be dispensed only at the Caja via a new agency responsible for research, regulation and control.

The bill seeks to establish the scope and regulation of all processes involved, including “growing, harvesting, processing, storage, distribution, manufacturing, marketing, transportation, sale, use and consumption of different varieties of cannabis (Cannabis indica, cannabis sativa and cannabis ruderalis), in order to define limits, presentations, authorized purposes and uses.”

The proposal is currently on the Legislative Assembly’s agenda and could be discussed and voted on as early as next month.

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