By Maria Fernanda Tamayo - International Relations student
While in Costa Rica is illegal to sell, buy or deal any THC related substances, legalizing cannabis would be beneficial for the government and the population's security because it eradicates drug-dealing and gang wars. Cannabis or the specific component, THC, which is the substance on marijuana that affect human senses and creates that "high" feeling, it is pretty common now among the teenagers and college students. In Costa Rica, the consumption of this herb had become very popular during the last decade. Since the country has a reasonable rate on tourism and the influence of the Rastafarian culture on the Caribbean, it is surprisingly easy for the people to get hands-on this substance. Although it is illegal, it can be found pretty much everywhere for a reasonable price, and statistics revealed that more than a 65% of the population had tried at least once. So, how would the legalization affect Costa Ricans?
In an attempt to answer the question, it is needed to take into consideration some examples of countries where the legalization its already been successful, such as Uruguay. The substance famously called "pot" is sold in certified dispensaries and pharmacies under the government's price standards and restrictions. At the entrance to the pharmacy, each user is asked to put their fingerprint on a scanner. The electronic device is connected to a government database that will authorize, or not, the weekly dose of 10 grams of legal marijuana. The product is of high quality and controlled by the state. Not only is the population recreationally benefiting from this, but it also improves the country's development. In the last six months of last year, marijuana left more than $1.2 billion in taxes in Uruguay. The only requirement to buy weed is to be more than 18 years old (Álvarez, Pose y Luján, 2017). Without any doubt, the government and the Uruguay population have benefited from the legalization of the substance.
The most relevant improvements are palpable on social security. The number of gang violence has been significantly decreasing since its legalization. Since the crime and violence had been decreasing is has been leading to less national budget on anti-narcotic organizations, and more investments in education and infrastructure. Some states of the US where weed is now legal have also seen the benefits of its legalization for recreational use. The criminal activity surrounding marihuana in the '90s and '00s left the California and Nevada authorities re-thinking if its legalization will be beneficial or if it will cause more trouble. Now that it is legal, they have answered the question. They have expressed that it has been one of the most critical decisions since there are lots of social prejudices on the drug. However, they finally admitted that the decision might have been difficult but very successful. In the State of California, the legitimate use of marijuana led to job growth, increase retail sales, more state, and federal tax revenue, a reduced black market, increase consumer safety, treatment of medical conditions, and among other benefits (Doward, 2018).
The legalization of cannabis will bring a lot of economic benefits to the country; such it has been brought to more than 10 States in the US, and Uruguay. Costa Rica is fighting a fiscal deficit; with the legalization of weed, the economy will rise and stabilize. Some people express the concern about the fact that the access for minors to the drug will be rapid and easy, and it will be, but some of the economic resources collected from the HTC related substances taxes could be invested in drug prevention programs and narcotic rehabilitation clinics.
Informing the population about the drug is vital for the project. They all need to be aware of its positive uses, disadvantages of the abusing of HTC, and how its legalization will benefit economy and security. Encouraging these campaigns will make the population more aware of the different effects of the substance, and that they will be consuming under their own risk and responsibility. Let us remind the population that the substance also has lots of benefits, and it is not only to get high. Instead of focusing on the shortlist of cons, we should focus on the economic benefits of its legalization.
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Doward, J., 2018. Legal Marijuana Cuts Violence Says US Study, As Medical-Use Laws See Crime Fall. The Guardian. Retrieved from https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/jan/14/legal-marijuana-medical-use-crime-rate-plummets-us-study
Álvarez, N., Pose, N., & Luján, C. (2017). La política internacional de la regulación del cannabis en Uruguay. Un análisis de la respuesta uruguaya a los desafíos y oportunidades del régimen internacional de drogas. Desafíos, 29(2), 19–59. https://doi.org/10.12804/revistas.urosario.edu.co/desafios/a.5223