AP NEWS

Panama lawmakers debate legalizing medicinal marijuana

October 10, 2019
This Aug. 22, 2019, photo shows flowering medical marijuana plants being grown with special grow lights at a cultivation and processing facility in Ravena, N.Y. Lawmakers in Panama have taken up an initiative that seeks to legalize marijuana for medicinal purposes. (AP Photo/Hans Pennink, File)
This Aug. 22, 2019, photo shows flowering medical marijuana plants being grown with special grow lights at a cultivation and processing facility in Ravena, N.Y. Lawmakers in Panama have taken up an initiative that seeks to legalize marijuana for medicinal purposes. (AP Photo/Hans Pennink, File)

PANAMA CITY (AP) — Lawmakers in Panama have taken up an initiative that seeks to legalize marijuana for medicinal purposes.

Debate over the issue began two years ago. The previous legislature gave it initial approval but decided to subject it to broader study.

Marijuana is the second most commonly consumed narcotic in Panama, after cocaine. Its sale and possession are both illegal.

The congressional Commission on Work, Health and Social Development took up the measure Wednesday night. It would have to pass through further debates, consultations and votes, and then be signed by President Laurentino Cortizo.

If it passes, Panama would be the first country in Central America to legalize medicinal marijuana. Costa Rica has also held debate on the issue.