By / May 5, 2020

Government considers hemp as an option to develop Costa Rica’s economy

Costa Rica will promote the cultivation of hemp – a variety of cannabis – to revive the economy as one of the measures to mitigate the impact of the crisis generated by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We will promote hemp cultivation to reactivate the productive sector, with all the guarantees and security of the case,” said the president during his work report to the Legislative Assembly on May 4th.

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Hemp as a way to revive the economy of Costa Rica

Hemp is the name given to the varieties of cannabis used for industry and food. These varieties contain a lower amount of the psychoactive tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and are different from the cannabis plant.

This would be the first time when the government of Costa Rica explicitly encourages the production of hemp crops. This would be one of the measures promoted by the government to reactivate the economy after the impact of COVID-19.

The Central Bank announced on April 24th that it expects the worst economic contraction since the 1980s, as it forecasts a fall of -3.6%.

The proposed bill will help legalize cannabis in the country

There is currently a bill in the Legislative Assembly – presented by Deputy Zoila Volio – focused on legalizing the production of hemp and cannabis for medicinal and industrial purposes. This project also has the signatures of deputies Roberto Thompson, Paola Vega, and Karine Niño. This law would not allow the recreational use of cannabis.

“Project 21,388 seeks to contribute to the quality of life of patients with certain conditions, create jobs, contribute to the treasury, diversify agriculture, and strengthen our talent in technology,” Volio said through his social networks on April 23rd.

According to the bill, its aim is “to regulate the mechanisms of planting, cultivation, harvesting, production, processing, storage, distribution, industrialization, marketing and export of Cannabis Sativa L plants and their varieties and the hemp or industrial hemp plant.”

The project also focuses on promoting the export of the crops or products derived from hemp plants, such as oils, fabrics, food, construction material and rope. It would also create health licenses for the sale of medicines, as well as agricultural licenses to regulate the use of seeds and the planting of hemp.

President Alvarado, however, did not explicitly say whether he would boost production of this crop through this bill. Nor does this measure figure in his government plan.

Cannabis market is growing at a fast pace worldwide

The hemp industry is expected to grow by 16% between 2019 and 2023, according to a 2019 report by the market analysis company Technavio. However, the report was done before the Covid-19 economic crisis.

The cannabis industry represents a market of 1 billion people, about 60% of whom are in one of the 21 countries where this activity is legal and regulated, according to Volio’s bill.

Currently, the cultivation of cannabis for personal consumption is decriminalized, as long as the sale and distribution of the product is not verified.

Most of the cannabis market, however, is dominated by drug trafficking: cannabis is the second most seized drug by the Drug Control Police after cocaine.

Illegal activity also generates pressure on the environment. In 2019, the State of the Nation revealed that between 2007 and 2018, judicial authorities seized 35 hectares of cannabis within Protected Wildlife Areas, equivalent to 87 soccer fields.


(Featured image by Ulrike Leone via Pixabay)

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