Why Did the President of Costa Rica Block the Medical Cannabis and Hemp Bill?
Costa Ricans will have to wait a few more months for medical cannabis reform, thanks to President Carlos Alvarado.
The President of Costa Rica, Carlos Alvarado, has delayed the approval of a bill to legalize medical cannabis and industrial hemp employing a veto. The country’s top citizen claims that the provisions in the bill having to do with consumption and personal use undermine the bill’s primary objective.
In many developed countries around the world, cannabis laws have either been reformed or are in the process of being reformed. This is a considerable accomplishment given that the drug was utterly prohibited for medical use around ten to twenty years ago. Medical cannabis has been described as an effective panacea for several disease conditions, although most of the available information is anecdotal.
The Western Hemisphere has adopted medical cannabis reform much faster than the Eastern Hemisphere. Countries like Germany and Canada are at the forefront of this medical revolution, with even more plans to adopt other progressive policies to boost sales and increase availability within and outside their borders.
On the other hand, countries like Costa Rica are being drawn back due to key politicians’ exerting their powers by using their vetoes. This development is not out of place because not all countries in a region can be on the right side of history for reforms like this.
A Temporary Delay
With his veto right, President Alvarado, left with just a few months in office, has temporarily halted the progress of the proposed medical cannabis policy. Unfortunately for the pro-cannabis groups, the legislature would be unable to act on this until the general elections, which are slated to be held this month, have been concluded. approved in October. vetoed Costa
Rica’s legislature (both chambers) approved the medical cannabis bill in February 2021. After that, it was sent to the President’s desk to be signed into law. Rather than append his signature, the Central American country’s president partially vetoed the bill.
According to Wikipedia, a partial veto also referred to as a line-item veto, is a veto power that bestows a key government executive with authority to reject some provisions in a bill without throwing the entire bill out. In Costa Rica’s case, the lines being left are the personal use and consumption provisions. The president says he is pleased with the other provisions enacted by the legislature.
The fact remains that the form of veto, whether partial veto or total veto, does not matter, as the bill will not be passed until all provisions are accepted. Simply put, a partial ban retains the same impact as a total veto, and nothing gets passed.
Alvarado explained that his main reason for doing this was the technical inconsistencies in the bill. The Tico Times news outlet reported the president’s official statement, highlighting his support for medical cannabis reforms and his wish to sign the bill. However, the president wrote that the personal use and consumption provisions in the measure would have a countereffect on public health and safety in the long run.
President Alvarado emphasized that he supports medical cannabis and believes in its potential to alleviate the conditions of Costa Ricans with chronic disease conditions. He even mentioned that he had close family and associates who needed the drugs. He wrote that he supports industrial hemp production, citing it as a booster for agricultural production and economic growth. His disagreement with the consumption and personal use provisions is the only reason why medical cannabis and industrial hemp are still prohibited in Costa Rica today.
Not A Surprise
Many lawmakers claim that they already anticipated that Alvarado would use his veto power to reject the medical cannabis bill. From the onset, the president has been very vocal about his stance against some details in the measure.
The president’s partial veto and his request for some parts of the bill to be modified come at a time when the legislature would be unable to reconsider the bill immediately. Some cannabis advocates claim that this is not a coincidence. The president still maintains that he agrees with the objectives that would be accomplished by the bill and that he would like to pass this bill into law before vacating office in May.
The Bishop of Costa Rica also agreed with the president’s view on the self-consumption and self-cultivation provisions in the bill. The bishop wrote a day before the president announced his partial veto that the proposed law contains so many inconsistencies that it could jeopardize the bill’s legitimate goals. The Bishop said that there are no guarantees that cannabis crops can help boost the economies of rural areas, stressing that no measures have been put in place to ensure small farm owners derive sufficient benefits from cultivating the crop. The bishops also mentioned that the continuous cultivation of only cannabis crops on large land could hasten environmental degradation, not to note that controlling illegal cannabis operations would be more of a challenge.
Next Step From Here
All indications show that the legislature may not work on this bill until next month or thereabouts, as all focus is currently on the smooth running and counting of elections and votes. Whether or not the bill will be perfected before Alvarado’s term ends in May remains uncertain for now. Despite the fact that Quesada stated that he believes lawmakers will implement his proposed changes as soon as possible,
As soon as everything goes back to normal post-elections, the vetoed legislation will be sent back to the chambers with the proposed changes highlighted by the President. The lawmakers would consider the changes and make some modifications. Then it would be sent back to the President’s desk.
For a President who claims to be an avid supporter of Costa Rican medical cannabis reform, Alvarado’s recent actions make very little sense. As a president, he should be doing all he can to create safe access to medical cannabis as widespread as possible, not limiting it. It is also disappointing that the president had refused to propose these changes since October when the Senate approved the bill. Hopefully, the legislature will revise the bill within a few weeks to provide patients with much-needed relief.