If Costa Rica decriminalizes recreational cannabis, it will have access to “a new world of benefits and opportunities for the country,” according to businessmen and experts consulted.
More tourists, a new source of income for the State, greater foreign investment and the generation of new jobs are some of the positive elements that would emerge from this criminal law reform. Likewise, medicines with high concentrations of THC would be available to countless patients with diseases such as cancer, lupus, arthritis and other ailments.
The idea was raised by President Rodrigo Chaves on August 16th, when he completed 100 days in office. And it is that the recreational cannabis industry has a world market that would range between $15 billion and $20 billion a year, according to Roy Thompson, president of the Council of Hemp and Cannabis of Costa Rica.
“In the United States, recreational cannabis is allowed in several states, as well as in Canada, in the same way several European 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. The recreational cannabis market is something like $15 billion to $20 billion a year,” Thompson said.
Next November, President Chaves will be presenting a bill to Congress to decriminalize marijuana and allow its cultivation and sale to be legal. “We believe that well-regulated recreational cannabis would translate into positive effects for the tourism industry and for health, in addition to undermining criminal structures. The medicinal and recreational cannabis industry has exponential growth every year, which would open up business opportunities and jobs. Costa Rica could produce cheaper than the United States, so we would have foreign investment”, said José Álvaro Jenkins, president of the UCCAEP. At this time, Costa Rica only decriminalizes personal consumption, while the sale and cultivation is considered a criminal offense that is punishable by imprisonment.
Conservative groups have already warned that they will be opposing the proposal in Congress. In the first instance, because it is a gateway to drug addiction and because it affects the development of young people.
“We have clearly said that we are against the legalization of recreational marijuana, due to the serious effect that this can have on the problem of addictions in society, so we believe that it is very unfortunate that the government is promoting it. In the Legislative Assembly we will oppose this proposal. This issue should not be approached in terms of job creation only, but rather ethical reasons must be taken”, said David Segura, a Tico deputy.