A year has passed in which Bill 21,388 on Cannabis for medicinal and therapeutic use and hemp for food and industrial use was approved. Do you remember? For this reason, we spoke exclusively with the former deputy of the Costa Rican Legislative Branch,ZoilaVolio, who informed us on the progress of the now approved Law N.10.113.
Volio was the one who drafted the project in May 2018, from that date she began to have conversations with international experts and study laws from other countries. In 2019, a year later, she presented the project, which in her opinion “was approved after being vetoed, and with modifications of small things that did not change the spirit of the Law, it was approved in 2022, that is, it was an extremely long process, which despite everything today fills me with satisfaction”.
The veto of the bill made reference to articles 5, 25 and 26, which referred to the possibility of self-cultivation of hemp without authorization and domestic self-cultivation for self-consumption of cannabis for medical and therapeutic purposes.
Given the situation, the commission of deputies that ruled on the project agreed to adopt the changes requested by the Executive Power. The project was again voted on in two debates, the last one on March 1st, 2022, with the approval of 35 deputies.With a few hours difference to the approval in the second debate, the text of the project was signed by the President of the Republic, Carlos Alvarado.
In the new text, the possibility of self-consumption and aqua cultivation of both hemp and cannabis was eliminated, and it adds a series of requirements for the exploitation of both products by the industry.
Regarding the modification, there was discontent on the part of the deputies who were in favor of the project, for which reason the Executive Branch prior to the current one had not shown any opposition against the articles that regulated self-consumption and aquaculture. But it is noteworthy that its approval was a great advance for Costa Rica focused on the economic, industrial, social and medical fields.
How was the approval process according to Zoila Volio?
“The process to be able to approve Law 10,113 on Medicinal Cannabis and Hemp was democratic and very complicated because we found ourselves unable to discuss the project in plenary, which was an issue at that time because for 8 months the legislative agenda drooled on the reform to the regulation that was in the hands of the Executive Branch and it was not called up despite the pressure we put on it because they were afraid of opening this possibility and it took a whole process of convincing,” she said.
Volio explained that after the vote in the first debate, once the legislative agenda returns to the deputies and the consultation is made to the room, which in her opinion was poorly done and poorly planned, but which empowered the project, because everything was unanimously approved by the constitutional chamber “no defects in the procedure or substantive defects were found; for me all that time, it generated enormous personal and emotional exhaustion, but today looking back I feel that it was all worth it and was something so democratic because many fellow deputies from different parties joined, contributing and supporting the initiative”.
What motivated you to promote what is now Law 10,113?
Zoila Volio is an agricultural engineer and, as is already known, took office in 2018 as a deputy requesting to be in the Agricultural Commission. Week after week, she saw bankrupt cooperatives that had no choice, that had no alternative, and there she began to value Hemp “initially, I studied, attended congresses outside the country and discovered the part of Medicinal Cannabis, as an effective treatment for immunological diseases, to help with cancer issues, mainly to reduce the side effects of chemotherapy, epilepsy, Parkinson’s, multiple sclerosis, arthritis”.
For Volio, the fact that Cannabis has benefits to improve people’s health, convinced him more that chronic patients deserve that quality of life, to move forward, to feel good.
Regarding Industrial Hemp, she was motivated by the generation of jobs, investment, “there is a possibility of 23,000 hemp by-products according to a study by Procomer, all of this was what prompted me to draft and present the bill.”
Have there been any advances in Costa Rica after the approval of the Law?
After the Law on Medicinal Cannabis and Industrial Hemp was approved, Volio highlighted that implementation has cost a lot, “already in the Part of Hemp, at least, is progressing, the first license came out and I would say that the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock (MAG) has been very efficient in that, we have the problem in the Ministry of Health, where obstacles are appearing for the implementation of Medicinal Cannabis”.
In the opinion of the former Costa Rican deputy, the Ministry of Health issued a regulation “as everyone knows, but in the temporary regulation it is stated that another regulation was going to be generated, that is, the regulation of the regulation. They are trying to assimilate the products of Cannabis as if it were an antibiotic and it cannot be assimilated like this, there is really a problem in the Ministry of Health that has not allowed this to start anymore”.
What is ZoilaVolio currently doing, what is she focused on, what does she think she needs to do?
At this time, she is a consultant on the entire Cannabis and Hemp industry from the GHP legal firm, and for her, it has been an enriching experience because there is great interest from investors to come and settle in the country. Now she sees a great future in the industry.
What is your point of view on President Chaves’ initiative for Costa Rica to be promoted as a destination country for recreational marijuana use?
“Actually, the project that was presented had major errors, because it was like a copy of Colombia’s bill, because it spoke of the areas of mobilizing the military, they were out of context but this is not the time for what the president is proposing, we have not even advanced with the medicinal part yet, neither has it been granted nor a single license regarding the planting of Cannabis for therapeutic use, there are obstacles in the Ministry of Health in the regulation, how are we going to think about the recreational part now? I think this is a process and we have to start with what we have” concluded Zoila Volio.
Given the proposal of the current president of Costa Rica, Rodrigo Chaves, to promote the country as a destination for the recreational consumption of marijuana and the disagreements of a large number of Costa Rican organizations, the initiative will be modified.
By the way, referring to the issue of recreational use, a few days ago it was learned that while Germany was paving its way to legalize Cannabis, an organ of the United Nations Organization (UN) warned that this recreational consumption policy increases consumption among young people, it does not reduce the illegal market or crime and, in general, it is harmful to public health.
After all, that was not the proposal of the former deputy ZoilaVolio, because everything is oriented in her case to the Medicinal and Industrial part, we hope that more progress will be made with Law 10,113 in Costa Rica.