Medical Cannabis Legislation to be debated this Month in Costa Rica

A controversial medical marijuana bill is amongst 54 bills and initiatives that are scheduled to be read and debated in the extraordinary session of the Legislative Assembly, which begins on Monday and will continue through the month of August.

 

The bill seeks to legalize and regulate marijuana-derived medicines and medical treatments, including tablets, suppositories, ointments, sprays, patches, and injections amongst others.

 

The smoking of marijuana however would remain off-limits.

 

Supporters of the bill say that such treatments could benefit patients with diseases such as cancer, epilepsy, multiple sclerosis and a range of other afflictions.

 

Support and Opposition

 

The bill has some surprising supporters, but opposition also remains strong.

 

Costa Rica’s National Academy of Medicine categorically denounced the bill in June, saying that the medicinal uses of marijuana and its derivatives are “very limited,” adding that the “potential benefit [of medical marijuana] is no better than conventional medications currently available and in use.”

 

The Academy also expressed its concern that the bill, if approved would open the door for legislation legalizing the use of marijuana for recreational purposes, which it said “would lead to unpredictable and negative consequences” especially in “susceptible groups” such as minors.

 

Meanwhile, the Costa Rican public health system known as CCSS and the Ministry of Health have endorsed the bill with conditions, including the prohibition of recreational use. CCSS has gone as far as to say that such treatments would be covered and provided to patients free of charge.

 

Perhaps the bill’s most surprising endorsement so far has come from Costa Rica’s Lutheran Church. In June, the president of Costa Rica’s Lutheran Church described marijuana as a “plant of God,” while expressing his approval of medicinal use of the plant, adding that “[marijuana] should not be demonized, the plant itself is harmless and can have a proper use.”

 

A 2013 survey conducted by the School of Statistics at the University of Costa Rica (UCR) found that 52.9% of Costa Ricans said they would support medical use of marijuana, though the same survey found that just 15% of Costa Ricans would support blanket legalization for recreational use.

 

source: Inside Costa Rica