Image from the jungles of Costa Rica.

Arturo Sotillo

Hemp and MMJ Bill Introduced in Costa Rica

Note: This piece was updated on 12/20/16. The previous version of the article did not mention prohibitionist stall tactics in the Committee of Legal Affairs.

A bill legalizing hemp production and medical cannabis has been introduced in Costa Rica, and at first it appeared to have the necessary legislative support to pass, Costa Rica News reported.

Unfortunately, the bill was stalled earlier this week when a reading was called by prohibitionist officials. Representatives Óscar Andrés López Arias, Avelino Esquivel, and Fabricio Alvarado together were able to delay intelligent discussion in the Committee of Legal Affairs and wasted enough time that the session ended before the bill could be ratified.

The “Law for the Investigation, Regulation, and Control of Cannabis and Hemp for Medicinal, Food, and Industrial Use” would create a new agency, the Institute for Regulation and Control of Cannabis and Hemp, which would be overseen by the nation’s Department of Health.

The institute would issue cultivation and dispensary licenses and develop the list of qualified conditions, and issue patient I.D. cards. The proposal has been gaining traction for about two years, winning the support of the Costa Rican public health system. Members of the Costa Rican Renewal Party have made previous attempts to stall, or even block the bill from a floor vote.

Costa Rican Congress members have visited Colorado, Washington, and Nevada to help devise rules for the program and learn from their experiences.

Costa Rica has already decriminalized cannabis possession. According to the bill text, there would be 52 dispensary licenses and 170 industrial hemp licenses; and three types of cultivation licenses would be available – eight large, 13 medium, and 21 small. If approved the institute would have three months to develop and issue regulations.

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