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Costa Rica’s Legislative Assembly has been considering medical marijuana legislation since 2014, and now lawmakers report that it could pass by May 1st with strong support from almost every caucus.

The bill would legalize the production of medical marijuana, and would create an institute within the Ministry of Health that conducts research, provides licenses and permits for businesses and medical recommendations for patients. The bill would also apply a 7 percent sales tax to help fund the new program.

Costa Rica’s socialized health care and social security organization (CCSS) has supported the bill. According to the original presenter of the bill, Rep. Marvin Delgado Atencio, they would provide medical marijuana to patients free of charge. Atencio, stressed that the bill is intended for medical marijuana, not recreational use.

When it comes to marijuana legislation in Costa Rica, the law allows for recreational use, but discourages the selling and distribution. It is often left for each law enforcement officer to decide what constitutes the distribution and sale of drugs, as there is no amount specified by law.

Back in January, Mario Alberto Cerdas Salazar was acquitted on charges of growing marijuana at his home. Carolina Leitón, a judge who ruled in favor of acquittal, explained that growing marijuana is technically illegal in Costa Rica, but the crime has no criminal penalty unless it can be proven that there was an intention to sell or distribute it.

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