A new source of income for the State at a time when it is suffering problems due to the fiscal deficit, new jobs and greater foreign investment, are some of the benefits that the decriminalization of recreational marijuana would generate, according to deputies, former ministers, businessmen and even the President Rodrigo Chávez. Instead of considering the production and sale of the plant a crime, cannabis represents a world of opportunities for the country.
This past Tuesday, the police discovered the largest laboratory in the history of hydroponic marijuana in the mountains of Puriscal. The site had 120 solar panels and ten air conditioners, with the aim of having the optimal conditions for the production of marijuana; Likewise, it was built with a metallic structure and was used for storage and cultivation of plants.
All this implies that the people arrested -including a man of American origin, but with a Costa Rican identity card surnamed Lewis- invested a significant amount of money to produce the drug and although the President announced that he will present a bill to decriminalize recreational cannabis in November, it is still considered a criminal offence.
“This should be in the news because it is an industry that provides jobs and pays taxes and not because it constitutes a punishable crime and is classified in a draconian way with a severe prison sentence according to our Penal Code,” said Marco Feoli, former Minister of Justice.
Meanwhile, Deputy Jorge Dengo of the Progressive Liberal Party, assured that Costa Rica must advance in the regulation of recreational cannabis, while maintaining a social balance and with the issue of public health. And it is that the country is losing the opportunity to open the door to a new industry, capable of generating jobs and reactivating the economy.
“In this case we are facing a violation of national laws and we must respect them, but I do believe that this is a good time to have a serious and in-depth discussion so as not to criminalize these behaviors and see if, in a properly regulated market, they can take advantage of these opportunities for investment and economic development of the country. Obviously, without forgetting the health and social issue and thus have a relevant balance for a public policy issue. Personally, I am in favor of regulating this issue, instead of criminalizing and prohibiting it,” said Dengo.
The President´s opinion
The idea of decriminalizing recreational cannabis was raised by the President on August 16th after completing 100 days in office. This past Wednesday, the government has not referred to the issue, while the police authorities defend their actions.
“The men were under the orders of the Prosecutor’s Office accused of violating the psychotropic law and are exposed to sentences ranging between eight and 15 years,” explained Stephen Madden, director of the Drug Control Police.
Despite the fact that local authorities prosecute people who grow recreational cannabis, in the world marijuana for recreational purposes has a global market that would range between $15 billion and $20 billion a year, according to Roy Thompson, president of the Council of Hemp and Cannabis from Costa Rica.
“In the United States, recreational cannabis is allowed in several states, as well as in Canada, in the same way in Europe several countries have made this decision. On the other hand, marijuana is present in practically every country in the world, albeit illegally, not now, but for centuries. With this we wants to say that the recreational cannabis market amounts to about $15 billion or $20 billion a year and that Costa Rica has a great opportunity to enter this market,” said Thompson.
The decision to decriminalize this drug was defended by the President, considering that it has more benefits than points against it. “When one weighs the scientific evidence, the experience of many countries such as Uruguay, Mexico, Colombia and various states of the United States, as well as the experience of prohibition and the possibility of funding the IAFA through regulations and at the same time, getting thousands of people out of jail for minor crimes, we came to the conclusion that it is the best thing for the country,” Chaves said weeks ago.
Transforming a crime into an opportunity
Another who spoke out in favor of decriminalization was former PLN deputy Roberto Thompson, who stated on his Twitter account that “what if we transform what is now a crime into an opportunity.”