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The Access to Cannabis in Costa Rica

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In the modern age, opportunity can present itself in a flash but just as quickly it can leave your hands. As cannabis is becoming a new age cash crop, more and more countries are getting in line for a slice of the pie. Countries are beginning to see how much revenue they can really make. Countries like Canada who brought in a hundred and eight six million in just five months of legalization. As the numbers increase countries like Costa Rica are applying their own forms of policy in hopes of banking in on the ever growing market. According to “Article 58, Law 8204” the personal use of cannabis is legal, but the selling, manufacturing and cultivation of cannabis is still banned. Closing the door for economic opportunity and personal income growth for small business and citizens.

Although it seems dark for the cannabis movement in Costa Rica, it doesn’t stop people from hosting cannabis related conventions and festivals most recently hosting their first cannabis cup “La Copa CR.” Nonetheless, the country is still at a moral tug of war. Cannabis has put a spotlight on the different fundamental problems Costa Rica is going through. Questioning the distinct aspects that make Costa Rica the place it is. Pressuring the countries’ ethical, religious and progressive commitment. There is a large gap that needs to be mended between the new and the young generation. As the two sides continue there debate on cannabis legalization we hope they can come to a compromise that addresses all parties concerns and hesitations. Leading to a better more open minded but fiscal Costa Rica.

Long before the criminalization of cannabis in Costa Rica cannabis has been an integral part of human civilization from its depiction in the cave paintings of ancient Japan to its usage in burial ceremonies in ancient China, it seems as though our relationship with marijuana has grown less and less of friendship to more of a bitter misunderstanding and demanding war effort. With stories of everyday people using the plant as a healing treatment for cancer, PTSD, seizures, anxiety, chronic pain, muscle spasms, glaucoma, Alzheimer’s, multiple sclerosis, Hepatitis C, inflammatory bowel diseases, arthritis discomfort we have finally found a tool that works for us and not against us. But even with all the studies and research done. People still stick a stigma to cannabis. With many people in the United States still seeing the plant as useless, harmful and dangerous there is still pushback from people. A lot of the criticism comes from people thinking you can only smoke marijuana and think it will negatively affect their breathing and heart conditions. The reality is that smoking the plant is only one way of in taking it. You absorb cannabis in food, drinks, sprays, and even in a pill form when the plant is diluted and turned in to oil. It is a stigma that Costa Rican citizens still have not shaken off.

Sixty two percent of the population in Costa Rica are Catholic that is more than fifty percent of the population. While having a religious goal and a spiritual life is a humble and kind hearted way to live. It can create spass biass moral and political debate. The push back comes from three major groups religious, consevative and elderly individuals. The good part about these citizens saying no to legal cannabis is it produces bi partisan debate for regulation and hopefully a compromise that umbrellas everyone’s concerns. There main arguments and concerns are. 

Brain Development: Using marijuana for a long time can cause structural brain changes. That’s because it can trigger mental illnesses. It can also cause IQ decline or decreased neuropsychological functioning. Functional and structural brain changes can also be caused by continued medical use of marijuana. Essentially, marijuana causes cortex thinning. 

Heart Attacks: Whether smoked or used with vape pens for oil, marijuana makes the heart beat faster. This sensation lasts for 20 to 30 minutes after use. This faster beating of the heart increases the chances of having a heart attack when a person smokes marijuana. Additionally, increased blood pressure can increase this risk.

Medical marijuana use is as dangerous because marijuana has 50 to 70 carcinogenic hydrocarbons. This implies that when a person smokes medical marijuana, they stand a higher chance of developing cancer of the respiratory tract and lungs. Users inhale marijuana smoke in their lungs just like tobacco smokers. This increases the exposure of their lungs to dangerous carcinogens and harmful chemicals. Addiction: Even with the existence of regulations on the medical use of marijuana, some individuals abuse it. Some people are concerned that while some individuals genuinely need prescription marijuana, others will cheat doctors to get a card for medical marijuana. When medical marijuana is used excessively, it interferes with the other life aspects. Excessive use and interference with other life aspects is what leads to its abuse and subsequent addiction. These are the concerns people have and are the reasons for the hesitation for full legalization

In a recent survey by the University of Costa Rica 78.1% of the population considers that it is very easy to have access to marijuana. The percentage of people that confirm having tried marijuana at least once went from 7.7% in 2010 to 17.7% in 2015. As it seems pretty obvious that the number of people using the plant will keep going up. As more and more advocates become more apparent, advocates such as Gerald Murray it lingers the question. “When will cannabis finally be legalized in Costa Rica” well according to Mr. Murray that question has no clear answer. A clear example of the mess current legislative law presents comes in the case of an attorney in Costa Rica who is facing four drug felonies for his cultivation of eighty five plants on his roof top he is arguing the courts that he cultivates the plants for his “horticultural hobby” and not for selling. While he was cultivating plants it is less of a charge if you are not making a profit from the plant. Court cases like these are happening all over Costa Rica and shows the gray area the current laws have. How they can be manipulated or not understood clearly. Another problem Costa Rica is having is the current drug problem and how it gets trafficked in and out of the country. If you look at Costa Rica’s geological positioning it is the second to last land mass before you get to South America. While also being a landmass someone has to cross to get in to Mexico, while also being close to Jamica much of Costa Rica’s illegal cannabis coming fourth from the island, it makes the drug trafficking situation triple a concern. Criminals in countries like Peru, Colombia and Mexico known for their black market drug manufacturing use Costa Rica as a land bridge to transport drugs like cocaine and heroin. While cannabis laws were put in place in Costa Rica to prevent drug trafficking, It has only made the problem worse. When you regulate cannabis it sets guideline prices for people to follow. When there aren’t any guideline prices it creates a market ruan by the supplier and leaves the consumer out of the discussion. Where setting laws and regulative prices mends the supplier and consumer relationship. While another point can be made for full legalization of cannabis is if you have a person already breaking the law and selling the product because of its illegality it creates more economic opportunity for the dealer. If you have cannabis regulated and allowed, it cuts off the need for a supplier. Why would a rational person goto a suspicious, alley way or house, if they can go get the same product if not cheaper at a dispensary. A high product in demand will always stay in demand.

The country of Costa Rica is a vass land filled with beautiful animals, plants and people. It is the most stable country in Central America and an amazing tourist destination.. While also having one of the smallest populations in Central America it does have its share of crime. While making cannabis in Costa Rica legal it won’t solve every crime it will make a huge dent in incarceration numbers, overall anxiety will go down because people won’t have to watch their backs while using the plant. Frankly the money used for non violent cannabis incarcerations can be used for beef up border security, flight security and can be made a tool to fully stop drug trafficking. I hope you enjoyed my report on Costa Rica and its current cannabis issue. Reading and writing about this country was very personal to me. My family and I migrated from Costa Rica to America while I was very young so getting to read and learn about the country has really brought me a new perspective of where I’m from and hopefully Costa Rica will change their cannabis laws.


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