By Emily Ledger
Lawmakers in Costa Rica will once again consider an initiative to legalise and promote the hemp and medical cannabis industries in the Central American country. The bill will finally continue its progress through the Legislative Assembly this week, following months of delays.
La Republica reports that the bill is promoted by independent deputy Zoila Rosa Volio, a trained agronomist, who believes hemp and cannabis crops could represent the significant economic potential for farmers and distributors in Costa Rica – given the growing demand for products derived from the plants.
The Foreign Trade Promoter of Costa Rica recently estimated that the commercial utilisation of industrial hemp and medical cannabis would give Costa Rica access to a global market predicted to be worth around $14 billion per year by 2025.
The initiative, which would legalise the regulated production of hemp and medical cannabis, begins its final journey through the country’s Congress this week, with all deputies given the opportunity to propose changes to the bill.
Political parties in Costa Rica, including the National Liberation party, Unity, and the PAC – in addition to other independent legislators, have all advocated for the timely approval of the bill as soon as possible.
Zoila Rosa Volio, independent deputy and proponent of the project, commented: For eight months this Congress was paralyzed by the government’s lack of action when proposing projects that reactivate the economy.
“Now, when the possibility of deputies establishing the agenda for debate and priorities, things change. and in that sense, there is great political will.”
Medical cannabis is now legal in over 20 countries around the world for conditions such as chronic pain, epilepsy, and PTSD. Hemp cultivation has also experienced a significant boost in recent years as demand for wellness products and sustainable industrial products such as bioplastics and construction materials soars.
Volio continued: “But it is more than that, we are talking about more investment, employment, quality of life for sick people and agricultural diversification. There are thousands of jobs.”
The project was stalled for eight months due to opposition to the bill and the Costa Rican government prioritising other initiatives.
The bill has encountered opposition from various sources such as the evangelical bench of the Costa Rican Legislative Assembly and, more recently, the government of Carlos Alvarado, who argued that while he supports the development of the hemp industry but isn’t fully convinced as to the legalisation of medical cannabis.
Costa Rica’s medical cannabis legalisation initiative proposes that the distribution of medical cannabis should be controlled with products only available to patients with approved medical conditions.