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Costa Rica Runoff Election Holds Key to New Medical Cannabis Law

March 30, 2022, San Jose, Costa Rica. 

A number of Costa Rican citizens “in the know” within the political arena are eyeing the new medicinal cannabis law recently signed into effect by outgoing President Carlos Alvarado. Many are openly wondering what effect the upcoming runoff presidential election may have on the formation and enforcement of new regulations.  

The recent presidential election in February produced two candidates who each achieved more than 20% of the vote. This forced a runoff election that has been scheduled for April 3.  

According to unnamed sources presidential candidate and former President Jose Maria Figueres is strongly in favor of not only medicinal marijuana, but also favors legalization of recreational cannabis.  

These sources point out the other presidential candidate, economist Rodrigo Chaves, apparently has reservations about the new medical cannabis law. Supporters say Chaves may want to actively try to block it from becoming a reality, but has not yet publicly commented on this subject.  

 The division of power within the government of Costa Rica is similar to that of the United States and other long-standing democracies around the world with three separate branches including Executive, Legislative and Judiciary governmental bodies. 

As in the U.S., the position of president wields power over the Executive branch but only has influence over the Legislative branch at best, so they can’t block or refute any law, they can only refuse to endorse it and that would be VERY difficult if not impossible to interfere with the legislative body’s decision. In this case that influence would not affect that law or its regulations even if a president decided NOT to endorse it. 

Observers also point out that as this is a runoff election between 2 candidates who each received less than 35% of votes from the admittedly low election turnout, neither candidate can really lay claim to possessing a public mandate and simply couldn’t use their political influence to stop this existing law.  

It’s now a waiting game as the experts and those creating the new rules and regulations for medicinal cannabis are anxious to see who wins the election before moving forward at this time.  

The consensus is quite strong that Figueres, a previous President and the son of the first and most famous President of Costa Rica, Jose Figueres (responsible for the abolition of the army in the 1940s), will handily win the election. In that case it is highly likely that Figueres will request the Legislative Branch to also consider the legalization of recreational cannabis at some point.  

Figueres is also strongly in favor of producing taxable income for the government. Costa Rica has suffered for more than 2 years with reduced tax income due to Covid. Both medicinal and recreational cannabis would be strong and profitable tax generating products as well.  

Finally, the consensus is also that the rules and regulations for medicinal cannabis are likely already written for the most part and could be ready within four months. As the new president would take office in late May, it appears that the law could be ready to execute before the end of 2022.