AMERICA/COSTA RICA - Legalization of Cannabis: the bishops urge the authorities to evaluate the benefits and harms for the population

Tuesday, 25 January 2022 drugs   laws   episcopal conferences  

San José (Agenzia Fides) - The Bishops of Costa Rica have expressed their position on the legislative approval of the bill called "Law on Cannabis for medicinal and therapeutic use and Hemp for food and industrial use". The objectives of the law are to promote the health of the population and the economic and social development of rural areas, the Bishops say, noting that however the text contains provisions that involve risks for public health and safety, as well as some inconsistencies.
The statement of the Costa Rica Bishops' Conference first emphasizes that "there are no guarantees that such crops can contribute to promoting the distribution of wealth in rural areas", since "no measures are foreseen that will bring sufficient benefits to smallholders received to change the type of cultivation. Furthermore, "monocultures are involved in environmental degradation" and it will also be "extremely difficult to control illegal cannabis plantations" since they are similar to hemp plantations and thus fuel criminal groups, as has happened in other countries. Thus, the uncontrolled cultivation of cannabis, which is easily possible in Costa Rica, would cause "severe damage to public health, especially the youth population". According to the Institute on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (IAFA), the average age for starting marijuana use has declined steadily since 2012, and last year was 13.4 years. Therefore, according to the bishops, the recommendation of the University of Costa Rica not to support the bill, which is based on the observations of academic experts from the faculties of medicine, pharmacy and biology and the Institute for Pharmaceutical Research (Inifar), deserves “special attention”.
Finally, it should be examined whether the authorizations granted for cultivation and self-consumption are incompatible with the provisions of the international conventions signed by Costa Rica on the subject. "These and other observations" - they conclude - lead us to ask the authorities to consider the benefits and harms of this law, adopted at the legislative stage, for the benefit of the entire national population". (SL) (Agenzia Fides, 25/1/2022)