Costa Rican President Carlos Alvarado on Thursday partially vetoed a bill to legalize medical cannabis and industrial hemp, citing “technical criteria” such as personal use and cultivation, the Tico Times reports.
“I want to say categorically that I support medical cannabis. This is to alleviate people with various diseases, and I even have close and very dear people who need it. And I also support industrial hemp because it will help agricultural production and economic revival. Let’s make this very clear: I agree with all these objectives, and I want to be able to sign this law.” – Alvarado, in a statement, via the Times
Alvarado indicated that the personal use and consumption provisions included in the bill could undermine the “legitimate” objectives of the bill and put public health and safety at risk, the report says.
Lawmakers had passed the legislation in October despite Alvarado’s known opposition to some of the bill’s details. The bill is also opposed by the Bishops of Costa Rica, who said in a statement the day prior to Alvarado’s veto that the law includes provisions that involve risks to public health and safety, and inconsistencies.
“There are no guarantees that such crops can contribute to promoting the distribution of wealth in rural areas [since] no measures are foreseen that will bring sufficient benefits to smallholders received to change the type of cultivation,” the bishops said in a statement. “Furthermore, monocultures are involved in environmental degradation … [and it will also be] extremely difficult to control illegal cannabis plantations”
The veto comes as Costa Rica is set to hold its elections on February 6, which means the bill will not be reconsidered by the Legislature until after the election, which the Times notes “one might think is not a coincidence.”
Alvarado, whose term ends in May, said that he trusts lawmakers would accept his proposed changes to the law and that it would “be in force soon,” according to a Reuters report.