Two companies from the United States and one from Ireland have already shown interest in coming to Costa Rica if the law that legalizes the industrial use of hemp and the medicinal use of cannabis is approved.
The Costa Rican Coalition of Development Initiatives (CINDE), confirmed the data. As they explained, the companies have already consulted on the progress of the law and its eventual regulation. “At Cinde we do see the potential for Costa Rica to be a destination that attracts investment in hemp and medicinal cannabis”, the institution pointed out.
Cinde, in charge of promoting the country as an investment destination, also explained that they are working on a strategy for the development of this industry. For this, the experience of other countries that already exploit cannabis and hemp is being explored; and it has the guidance of experts from Colombia and the United States.
Legal adjustments at the international level have allowed the advancement of the cannabis and hemp industries at the international level, with applications ranging from industrial use to recreational marijuana.
Potential for hemp
The issue of cannabis and especially hemp have been under debate for years, highlighting above all the economic contribution that its development could generate.
This was confirmed by the Foreign Trade Promoter (Procomer) in a study presented at the end of 2020. In it, potential for the industry in Costa Rica was found.
The size of the global market was then calculated at $5,733 million, with the possibility of growing up to 22% by 2025. The main markets for the sale of products in this segment are the United States (32%), China (28%) and Europe ( 28%).
With regard to Costa Rica, the main potential was found in products obtained from CBD (cannabidiol, a non-psychoactive element of cannabis), such as supplements, topical solutions, or incorporating it into food and beverages.
Likewise, there is the opportunity to generate products for industrial application such as bioplastics and sustainable construction; foods such as dairy products, bakery products, seeds and snacks; and personal care products such as soaps and lotions.
The study highlighted that the market for plant-based products is still small, so the country has opportunities to join; the growth of the market depends on how the regulations of the countries evolve.
Second, according to the report, there is potential for grain hemp, which can also be used in food supplements or consumed directly from the seed. This given its high nutritional value.
Grain production, compared to CBD production, is less labor intensive and less profitable. But the study says that products with a natural and vegan approach could be exported to destinations such as the United States.
The third productive option that the study highlights is fiber, which has applications in bioplastics, textiles, hempcrete (a material similar to concrete) and biofuels. However, this has the lowest profitability and labor intensity and is classified as a low-price market due to the important participation of China.
For the independent deputy Zoila Volio, promoter of the law, the news of possible investments confirms the expectation of economic reactivation. In addition, he highlighted the generation of employment that legalization would bring.
“Since I did the research prior to writing the project, I found the great international market there is. That’s why I made the decision to present it,” she said. Volio added that now only the signature of the Executive Branch is missing and that he hopes it will be done soon.
Alvarado has the last word
From their social networks, other deputies have asked the Government not to veto the initiative.Different positions of the Government of President Carlos Alvarado caused doubts about the future of this legislation.
Initially, the President included it as one of the few concrete plans for economic reactivation in the face of the pandemic in his 2020 annual report.The idea clashed with members of his own cabinet, such as the agriculture and security ministers, who rejected approval of the plan.
When the project advanced further in the Legislative Assembly, President Alvarado said that he would respect the will of the deputies. Even in December, when Supreme Court Chamber IV endorsed the initiative, the Executive issued a statement stating that “neither the Presidency nor the Ministry of the Presidency have made any proposal regarding a partial veto of the initiative.”
This position now collides with that of the Minister of Health, Daniel Salas. “The problem we have with the project, as it is, is that the part of self-consumption, self-cultivation, is so lax that basically you can consume the entire bush without any processing, without good practices,” the Minister alleged in mid-December.
More doubts came the previous week with the approval of the law in Congress. The Minister of Communication, Agustín Castro, said that there is no decision “neither one way nor the other.”
The Government received the hemp law last Monday and from Tuesday they have 10 business days to decide whether to veto it. The term expires on Monday, January 31, that is, 6 days before the presidential and legislative elections in February. In the event of a veto, the deputies only have the figure of the seal left, where they should vote for it by 38 votes so that the text remains alive.