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Mauricio Lizcano suffered from severe pain, dizziness, and nausea, due to a blood stem malformation that also made him a wheelchair user. In 2007, when he was diagnosed, he was warned that there was no treatment for these symptoms and that, therefore, he would live in pain for the rest of his life. Then, he discovered CBD and his life changed completely.

Currently, Lizcano, 42 years old, is the director of the Costa Rican Foundation for Medicinal Cannabis (Fucocame), in a country that, despite multiple attempts, the distribution of these products remains illegal.

Mauricio Lizcano, a wheelchair user and CDB consumer

Cannabidiol, better known as CBD, is one of the 2 most important components of cannabis and is found in different proportions depending on the type of plant. This does not necessarily have psychoactive components and is generally used as a medicine to combat conditions such as cancer, HIV / AIDS, glaucoma, multiple sclerosis, anxiety, among others.

Lizcano has been an active user of this for years and, expressly, it has been the only medicine that has helped him live a normal life, without vertigo or nausea. Likewise, he says that he relates CBD to the recovery of his body’s mobility that, at some point in his illness, he had almost completely lost.

Cannabis came to the former pilot for suggestions from multiple people shortly after being diagnosed with his illness. They recommended that you smoke marijuana to combat general body pain.

Lizcano, somewhat skeptical but open to solutions, tried it once and, as he said, the change was almost automatic. “In order to improve my quality of life, I am going to try anything. Whether socially approved or not, if that is going to help me, I am going to try it”, he says.

However, he says that thanks to his own case investigation, he began to improve his consumption habits in favor of improving his physical condition until he reached the exclusive use of CBD in oil. “CBD does not have the effect that recreational marijuana has. It does not have the smell or other factors that it entails. It is like another medicine, a very good one for many people, like me”, he explains.

Lizcano says that since then, he has not stopped improving. For example, because the malformation paralyzed half of his body, he could not feel the touch and had erectile dysfunction, which prevented him from procreating. He currently has a 4 year-old son.

“I start to think what would happen to me if my son touched my arm and I could not feel it. Now I do not look for how to heal not only for myself, but also for him. I am not healthy and I know it, but my life has vastly improved. These positive changes for someone with my illness are rare, almost impossible. But I have them, I am living this”, he points out.

Consuming CBD in Costa Rica

“Buying cannabis in Costa Rica is not illegal”, Lizcano emphasizes. That is, under current laws and international agreements that are governed in Costa Rica, there is no way to go to jail for buying cannabis, but for selling it. Costa Rica already has multiple international consensus that allow the medical and scientific use of cannabis.

Cannabis leaves

What is not legal is the sale, not the consumption. Many people believe that by buying cannabis they are exposing themselves. There is no one in jail for buying cannabis, they are selling or distributing cannabis. However, the line is blurring.

In August of last year, the Judicial Investigation Agency (OIJ) arrested for the 6th time the lawyer Mario Cerdas Salazar suspected of marijuana trafficking, who has been accused and acquitted on several occasions for the same reason and who until then claimed to have evidence to think that he distributed the plant to third parties. The 5 times prior to his arrest, despite the amount of cultivation that Cerdas possessed, the OIJ had no way of arguing that he sold the product.

Previously, in March 2018, a bill was introduced that would allow the local production of cannabis and hemp for medicinal purposes, proposed by the deputy of the National Integration Party (PIN), Zoila Rosa Volio Pacheco. The initiative aims to introduce cultivation licenses to the country for the development of national production and international export.

For Lizcano, the bill has a “capitalist” approach that leaves behind the needs of those who suffer from diseases where this treatment is necessary.

“The biggest problem is that there is currently no standardization. Currently one does not know what he is consuming and how each plant can have a better effect on the person. How to know for sure this? even when having your own bushes. This is not contemplated by the proposed law and that is where it is wrong”, he affirms.

In 2014, the then deputy of the Citizen Action Party (PAC) Marvin Atencio proposed a similar project, which tried to regulate the licenses for the local production of these products. The initiative went to the Committee on Legal Affairs, where it was rejected.

For his part, the director of the Costa Rican Association for the Study and Intervention in Drugs (ACEID), Ernesto Cortés Amador, said that the law should not be passed, since it would only bring “unnecessary elements for the cultivation of medical cannabis, thinking only in big companies”.

Lizcano says that he will continue consuming the product, the law passes or not. “For now this is the only medicine that has helped me to live normally”, he emphasizes.

He now has a support group within his foundation where he guides people interested in the subject and with chronic diseases to learn how to use and adapt each treatment depending on the individual. These types of actions, he explains, are more useful than current legislative regulations.

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