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Costa Rica legalized therapeutic marijuana

Costa Rica legalized therapeutic marijuana few weeks before the end of the President's mandate.

Costa Rica President with bill legalizing therapeutic marijuana
Costa Rica President Carlos Alvarado holding the bill legalizing therapeutic marijuana

Costa Rica President Carlos Alvarado signed the bill that legalizes marijuana for therapeutic and medicinal use on March 2.

Cultivation and industrial production of hemp will also be lega but recreational use of cannabis remains prohibited.

The regulation seeks to regulate and allow access and use of cannabis and its derivatives for medicinal and therapeutic use, considering the plant is part of citizens' "fundamental right to health". Cannabis for therapeutic use has low levels of THC, the psychoactive substance of marijuana. The government implements the law for the "benefits of patients with chronic pain" among other uses.

Costa Rica will also authorize the production, industrialization and commercialization of hemp for its industrial use and in food products.

Any use of cannabis was illegal before the law but it was not considered a crime, unlike the business of marijuana.

The new legislation is also a business opportunity for its agricultural sector, according to the government.

Costa Rica President Carlos Alvarado signed the bill a day after it was voted by Congress. He had partially vetoed a previous version in January and agreed on the modified version he requested. The president asked to remove authorization of domestic cultivation and use of cannabis, which would have opened the door for recreational use.

Costa Rica is the latest administration to legalize therapeutic use of marijuana in the region. Other countries have passed similar laws like Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Mexico, Paraguay, Peru and Uruguay. Uruguay however also legalized recreational use.

The law is passed during the last days of Carlos Alvarado's presidency. The next presidential elections will take place in April 2022. But in Costa Rica, president and parliament members cannot run for a second consecutive term.

The president said the new law would be enforced before the end of his administration.

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