Lawmaker seeks legal medical marijuana

Medicinal marijuana in Costa Rica may not be far from becoming a reality. Through a proposal for a law, legislator Marvin Atencio Delgado said Monday he hopes the country would consider passing reform that could legalize the drug.

The new proposal suggests that the Caja Costarricense de Seguro Social start distributing marijuana to prescribed patients of certain ailments. Atencio, a representative of Partido Acción Ciudadana, said legalizing the drug could present benefits to sick Costa Ricans.

“Numerous scientific studies have demonstrated cannabis’ potential to treat diseases like AIDS, cancer, epilepsy, and multiple sclerosis,” Atencio said. “For the health of thousands of potential patients, it’s necessary to have a law that adequately regulates the medicinal production of the plant.”

The proposal includes the potential creation of a medical marijuana regulatory board under the Caja, called the Instituto de Investigaciones, Regulación y Control de la Cannabis y el Cáñamo. This institute would be in charge of cultivating the marijuana, as well as making sure its tetrahydrocannabinol, the active ingredient known as THC, levels are kept at a low and stable level.

According to the proposal, the institute would file prescription licenses so patients can receive the medicinal marijuana at regulated dispensaries. The Caja would also be charged with distributing marijuana to those with prescriptions.

“One of the emphases for this proposal is the creation of conditions that will investigate the qualities of cannabis used for medicine,” Atencio said. “Costa Rica will be one of the only countries in the world that has a standard and appropriate infrastructure.

For a Costa Rican government that remains in debt, the financial positives that come from taxing medical marijuana are hard to ignore. The proposal calls for a 7 percent tax from any businesses or entities that participate in the medicinal trade. These profits would then go to public institutions like the Caja, the Universidad de Costa Rica, the Ministerio de Obras Públicas y Transportes, and the Instituto sobre Alcoholismo y Farmacodependencia.

At the beginning of this year, Colorado made marijuana legal for recreational purposes. According to the Colorado Department of Revenue, the Centennial State raked in more than $6.5 million worth of taxes, licenses, and fees in the month of June alone. Since January, Colorado has received $29.8 million total in related taxes.

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