The fiscal general has made public what has been practiced for nearly a year by the nation’s prosecutors. Possession of small amounts of drugs will not result in criminal prosecution.
The fiscal general, Jorge Chavarría, said this was a financial decision to keep an estimated 125,000 cases a year out of the court system. He said that in the past, a case was opened and then there was additional paperwork in getting a judge to close the case. Now prosecutors will just not open the case in the first place.
The revelation was hailed by those who seek legalization of what are now considered illegal substances. Others said that the fiscal general’s position amounts to legalization of all sorts of drugs in Costa Rica.
The policy does not just include marijuana, but all types of drugs, as long as the quantity does not suggest the potential for resale.
Fiscal General Chavarría may be content to live in a drugocracy, but A.M. Costa Rica is not. It would be helpful if prosecutors and judges would do their job instead of looking for loopholes. The purpose of drug laws is to reduce consumption. The result of the fiscal general’s policy is encouragement.
If one is photographed speeding on the highway, the potential fine, although being litigated now, is gigantic, some $600. Costa Rican law also provides for stiff fines for drug possession. That was rarely enforced. Now the law will not be enforced at all.
Some expats who consider Costa Rica as their own personal adult disneyland may hail the position of the fiscal general. That is short-sighted. The proliferation of drugs means the continued proliferation of robberies, thefts, burglaries and all the other situations that affect foreigners.
One cannot believe that police officers will continue to risk their life to stem the drug trade if many of those they detain walk.
And one cannot have drugs unless there has been a sale at some point in the chain of possession. That is a delito or felony here.
In addition, the idea that a chief prosecutor can overturn the nation’s laws on a whim is troubling. What next? A little bit of bribery will be OK? How about whacking the wife around a bit but not enough for a felony? Maybe a pass for stealing just older cars? Or maybe these are the fiscal general’s rules now. Who knows?