Costa Rica’s Legislative Assembly has been considering medical marijuana legislation since 2014, and now lawmakers report that it could pass by May 1st with strong support from almost every caucus.
The bill would legalize the production of medical marijuana, and would create an institute within the Ministry of Health that conducts research, provides licenses and permits for businesses and medical recommendations for patients. The bill would also apply a 7 percent sales tax to help fund the new program.
Costa Rica’s socialized health care and social security organization (CCSS) has supported the bill. According to the original presenter of the bill, Rep. Marvin Delgado Atencio, they would provide medical marijuana to patients free of charge. Atencio, stressed that the bill is intended for medical marijuana, not recreational use.
When it comes to marijuana legislation in Costa Rica, the law allows for recreational use, but discourages the selling and distribution. It is often left for each law enforcement officer to decide what constitutes the distribution and sale of drugs, as there is no amount specified by law.
Back in January, Mario Alberto Cerdas Salazar was acquitted on charges of growing marijuana at his home. Carolina Leitón, a judge who ruled in favor of acquittal, explained that growing marijuana is technically illegal in Costa Rica, but the crime has no criminal penalty unless it can be proven that there was an intention to sell or distribute it.
Sneaking drugs or substances of any kind into prison is not an easy feat, but that doesn’t stop people from making creative attempts. Although surprisingly not a first for guards at La Reforma prison near San Jose, Costa Rica, a carrier pigeon was recently apprehended on prison grounds with a special delivery for one unlucky inmate.
Although the black pouches strapped to the “Narcopigeon” were camouflaged by the bird’s black feathers, La Reforma guards noticed something strange, and were able to wrangle the bird before the delivery was made.
The pouches, which reportedly did not hinder the bird’s ability to fly, were filled with 14 grams of cannabis and 14 grams of cocaine. Paul Bertozzi, director of the Penitentiary Police, explained:
“We have a warning that this method can be used again as it is not the first time in the history of La Reforma that a pigeon was detected with drugs.”
The local zoo has taken custody of the bird, and one caretaker reported that because it refused to eat as birds normally do, it has clearly become accustomed to being hand fed. The same worker stated:
“Because of the way it came to us, it can never be freed.”
photo credit: Reuters
(San Jose, Costa Rica) – When you think of places running the drug trade in Central America, Costa Rica is not a country that usually comes to mind. This may change very soon given recent news that Costa Rican Ministry of Security seized over 7 tons of marijuana, more than any other country in Central America.
A total of 872,000 marijuana plants and 21 tons of cocaine were seized and destroyed in 2014 by Costa Rican authorities according to Security Minister Celso Gamboa.
Gamboa gave credit to the Drug Control Police for the illegal drug seizures, citing reduced gang violence and availability of goods on the street despite reports that say otherwise.
Photo Credit: TicoTimes