New Businesses, New Taxes, Fewer People in Jail: What Promises Does Recreational Marijuana have in store for Costa Rica

    There are realistic chances that the recreational marijuana bill will be approved

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    There would be three main benefits for Costa Rica after legalizing marijuana for consumption by the general public, including the creation of new businesses, the generation of taxes, and the reduction in the number of people imprisoned for its sale.

    There is opposition because of the risks that the use of marijuana could imply. However, there could be a favorable environment in the Assembly to approve a bill in this regard, which proposes regulating cultivation and commercialization, which are a reality in our society, given the problems of illegal trade and organized crime.

    In the following sections of this report, we analyze the main aspects of the proposed reform:

    What Are The Benefits Of Recreational Marijuana?

    There would be three main benefits for Costa Rica after legalizing marijuana for consumption by part of the adult population.

    1. New business

    Business opportunities in the different market segments, including these:

    (a) Import

    Bring the seeds as well as the finished products from other countries where recreational consumption is legal, with legal origin and verified under a traceability system that allows verification of their origin throughout the entire production chain.

    (b) Cultivation

    Grow the seeds.

    (c) Industrialization

    Manufacture, pack, and deliver finished products to duly authorized retailers.

    (d) Sale to the public

    Operate dispensaries, cafeterias, and consumer social clubs, whether individual or chain, to sell cannabis in various formats, including cigars, edibles, and beverages.

    2. Payment of taxes and social benefits

    The state will have new resources, after the payment of taxes from market players. Currently, the commercialization of marijuana does not generate taxes, as it is informal. The taxes would finance the responsible cannabis prevention and education programs at the Costa Rican Institute on Drugs.

    3. Fewer people incarcerated

    We could reduce the inmate population by no longer criminalizing the sale of marijuana to the public.

    4. Recognition of reality

    Decriminalizing the sale of marijuana would be recognizing reality, since a high percentage of the Costa Rican population uses it – estimated at almost 20% in 2015 by the Institute on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (IAFA). That’s why several jurisdictions have legalized it in recent years, including Canada and almost half of the United States.

    5. Probability of passing

    The Assembly might be willing to pass recreational marijuana. It could be done without delay if it had 38 deputies in favor. It could also pass with a simple majority – 29 votes – as long as no opponent kills the measure with endless motions. The project was presented by the Government in October last year.

    6. Controls

    To ensure drug standards, the state would supervise the sector in determining the types of marijuana that are sold – especially by the percentage of “tetrahydrocannabinol” – the active ingredient – ​​following technical standards, from import to sale.

    7. Is recreational marijuana the same as medical?

    No. Medical marijuana is obtained only with the prescription of a doctor, who considers that the drug helps in improving the conditions of the patient’s disease or for therapeutic use such as stress, depression, and Alzheimer’s.It is expected soon to have the technical protocols for the medical cannabis program, to apply the law that was approved by the Assembly in March 2022.

    8. Risks

    Is the use of marijuana risky?

    For some people it could be, since marijuana could affect concentration and memory, as well as reaction time. While no one should use it excessively, like other things that human beings tend to put in the body, such as sugar, alcohol and highly processed food, among others. It would even be advisable to use it in edible form or vaporize it, instead of smoking, since the smoke could affect the lungs.

    9. Opponents The use of marijuana could cause mental and physical problems, according to the Costa Rican Association of Psychiatry, while consumption could increase by legalizing its sale, considers the IAFA.
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