Back in October 2019, Deputy Kayra Harding introduced a bill (Proyecto de Ley No. 323) to promote the development of the hemp industry in Panama. The bill would establish a licensing regime for hemp cultivation and processing. Hemp is defined as cannabis whose THC content does not exceed 1.5% on a dry weight basis. However, legislative consideration of the bill has been slow.
Last October, government and legislative representatives agreed to establish a subcommission to “enrich” the bill. According to commentator Rafael Carles, it is ignorance when it comes to hemp and how it differs from marijuana that is behind the delays. At the same time, there are concerns within the Panamanian citizenry that the development of the hemp industry will only advance powerful business interests. These two explanations are not mutually exclusive, as demonstrated by this reader comment on a recent Carles column:
“Beware Panama! Now entrepreneurs want to make a profit from your vices, it is not just alcohol and beer. Now it is with drugs, but with a different name, calling the marijuana plant hemp.”
It does not help that Panama’s medical cannabis legalization has been tainted by accusations of corruption. According to one report, Canadian company Canna