Just hours after the National Assembly approved a bill legalizing medical marijuana and hemp, Costa Rica President Carlos Alvarado signed the bill into law. He called it a “great benefit for the country.”
Although one of the proposed benefits of the bill was to reduce illegal consumption and sale of marijuana, this first version of the bill was vetoed as it would have allowed personal cultivation and consumption. The new law prohibits this.
At the signing ceremony the Minister of Health Daniel Salas said “This new law strengthens the opportunities that citizens have to take advantage of the medicinal uses of Cannabis. From a Health perspective, we appreciate the positive response of the deputies that allows us to have new legislation to protect public health and for the therapeutic benefit of patients”.
Hemp production was welcome by the agricultural and business sectors as a way to help farmers and take advantage of the growing international market for the non-psychoactive cousin to marijuana.
There are many other applications for hemp other than t-shirts at a Phish or Grateful Dead concert. In fact, Henry Ford had tried unsuccessfully, to use the plant in car production in the United States for many years.
The Minister of Agriculture and Livestock, Renato Alvarado added “from the MAG and INTA we have supported this initiative by carrying out research and started the process of learning that will used by the Production Sector going forward. Because of this law, we now have a new way that our farmers can take advantage of the important opportunities the cannabis law offers”.
The tourism sector has yet to release a statement but Costa Rica has been a popular destination for many dental and medical tourism businesses for years. It is not clear if the new law will permit medical marijuana use for foreign visitors.
President Alvarado said that the regulatory structure of the new law will be enacted before his administration leaves office in May.