Hopes of importing beer made with hemp go up in smoke

Anyone who wants to drink hemp beer in Costa Rica will have to brew their own. The Sala Primera, a branch of the Corte Suprema de Justicia, has ruled again that such beer cannot be offered for sale in Costa Rica.

Hemp beer is a specialty brew that is said to have a more creamy head than conventional beer. And hemp and hops, the usual beer ingredient, is said to be close relatives.

Nevertheless, the Sala Primera magistrates rejected an appeal from the Tribunal Contencioso Administrativo, which also rejected the importation of the product.

Originally the beer was rejected by the health ministry, the Ministerio de Salud, in 2008. Since then the case was in various courts.

The Sala Primera originally rejected the beer, a Swiss product called Hanfblüte, which was going to be marketed here by a firm named Nikimar S.A.

The Sala Primera originally rejected an appeal in March and then did so again late last year on a rehearing.

The would-be importers argued that the law against drug products was so broad that it covered morphine, which is imported into the country. They also argued that the beer could not be converted into marijuana. The beer has an alcohol content of 5.2 percent.

Hanfblüte distributers have run into trouble in Europe when they advertised the beer with a marijuana leaf graphic.

Marijuana is readily available in Costa Rica, and the Internet provides recipes for making hemp beer.

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