Whether you hate it or love it, frequent news reports suggest Cannabis is a plant to be reckoned with sooner rather than later.
There’s a lot of buzz about the marijuana — an herb with special properties, a whole sub-culture around it and also a lot of fear.
The plant — also known as weed, herb, ganja or pot — is the flower of a plant called Cannabis, the hemp plant. This plant comes from the Himalayas and has been used for centuries for its psychoactive properties as a natural healing for the mind and body, its oldest use dates back to the 3000 BCE. Since then, the plant has spread all over the planet and is today one of the most consumed drugs in all of humanity.
The Illegalization of Marijuana
It wasn’t until 1936 that countries began to outlaw the plant under questionable conditions. Without any scientific evidence to back it up, the prohibition of marijuana was more of a political and economic move made by people who didn’t wanted the competition Cannabis sub-products on the market.
Some say, this plant was also part of a xenophobic campaign that went too far; propaganda told people that this plant caused men to lose their minds and rape women among other delusional effects without any proof back the claims up.
Following the indication of the United Nations, marijuana was illegalized in Costa Rica in 1961 with the General Health Law No. 5395 and the Narcotics Law No. 8204. Nevertheless, people kept consuming it marijuana. It was a distinguishing trait of the 60’s and 70’s, and today is raging again in popularity.
Back by Popular Demand
These days, 2.5% of the world population consumes marijuana. The last study done in Costa Rica showed that more than the 7% of Costa Rica citizens use marijuana regularly, and this number is believed to be on the rise.
Recently, scientists have begun to respond to the popular claim that marijuana is not dangerous by truly studying this plant for the first time. No more irrational fears; the taboo may soon be over.
The studies have so far revealed numerous empirical effects of marijuana — some of which are even beneficial to our bodies. Now that we have real information about this plant, we can make a decision about it.
Medical Benefits and Dangers
The medical research surrounding marijuana as revealed surprising results. This plant has beneficial properties for humans and can even be used to treat cancer as it stops the growth of damaged cells. It is also good at alleviating pains, regulating diabetes and reducing cardiovascular problems. What’s more, marijuana has actually been shown to cure both glaucoma and epilepsy and has been used on sick children that had no luck with any other treatment. Finally, some studies suggest the plant may be effective at treating depression and anorexia.
Of course, like any remedy, marijuana has its side-effects and risks. For one, high doses of the drug may cause panic attacks. The plant also affects the short-term memory and the coordination of the body. Luckily, these symptoms mostly disappear within hours after consumption. Teens who consume the drug, however, may experience permanent damage; one study revealed that teenagers that used the drug were left with a slower brain than that of non-users.
Besides the drug marijuana, the Cannabis plant can be used to produce a lot of sub-products that could benefit the economy. Before illegalization hemp paper, clothing, oil and ropes were used extensively. Today there is an industry eager to use this plant for its versatility, fast growth and low maintenance.
Other countries have already started to make profit with Cannabis. For example, the Canadian company Tweed is generating $180 million a year through Cannabis production.
Let’s be honest; most users aren’t after the medical or industrial uses of the marijuana, but for its psychoactive effects on the brain. According to the World Health Organization marijuana is a mild drug — safer that cocaine, liquor or tobacco. This places the plant in the same danger category as caffeine and wine. With this statement in mind, people are demanding open access to the plant for recreational use, claiming that it’s not dangerous but rather enjoyable.
Currently, marijuana production is controlled by the black market, meaning all its profit goes to militant organizations that are hidden to the public eye. Instead of reliving a pain in society, illegalization of this plant has created a drug trafficking problem and governments have lost a considerable opportunity for income through taxes.
Uruguay, a country similar to Costa Rica, has legalized marijuana to reduce the black market’s power and reactivate lands that were left unattended. This market is believed to produce $30 million dollars through recreational use alone. By legalizing the plant, many honest farmers in Costa Rica could start making a lot of money. GMP Capital analyst Martin Landry even estimates that the recreational marijuana market could be worth up to $5 billion annually.
Marijuana Regulation in Costa Rica
The laws in Costa Rica about this plant are not clear, the Narcotics Law No. 8204 says that it’s illegal to sell and produce marijuana on a big scale. It’s also illegal to carry marijuana up to a small dose. That said, the law doesn’t specify how much marijuana qualifies as a “small dose” or if it’s legal to grow the plant for personal use.
Already there are a lot of Costa Rican movements favoring the legalization of marijuana. The Movimiento Canabico Costarricense, for example, defends the right of cultivate your own marijuana. Their leader, Randall, claims that growing Cannabis for personal use is already legal in Costa Rica and that the decommissioning of plants and arrest of growers is a form of theft and repression.
There is also a medical marijuana movement, led by a man named Murray. He claims that the Narcotics Law is repressing the sick people who could benefit from the plant. In that way, he considers the law as a hazard for public health. This movement has even managed to bring their case of medical marijuana legalization all the way to the Legislative Assembly.
While the future of marijuana in Costa Rica is not yet certain, the important thing is that now we have science-based information and the debate is happening.