The College of Physicians and Surgeons and the National Academy of Medicine (Acanamed) oppose the bill that seeks to legalize cannabis for recreational use because they consider that it would have counterproductive repercussions on public health.
The representatives of these organizations fear the impact on people’s physical and mental health and also recall that the country has not managed to control the regulation or the damage caused by tobacco and alcohol.
“Although the bill establishes a maximum amount that can be had per person, who is going to control that this is fully complied with? We could leave the door open for legal indiscriminate consumption,” said Mauricio Guardia Gutiérrez, president of the College of Physicians and Surgeons.
“If Costa Rica has not been successful in regulating addictive substances such as alcohol and tobacco, it will be even less able to successfully regulate the production and consumption of marijuana,” he warned.
For Aristides Baltodano, president of Acanamed, the biggest concern is vulnerable groups, such as children and adolescents, whose brain development has not finished.
Both are emphatic that more studies are still required to determine the impact that this could have in the country.
This bill was presented by the executive branch last October 7. If approved, it would authorize the possession for personal consumption of up to 30 grams of marijuana. That amount is enough to make between 25 and 30 cigarettes.
In addition, this file 23,383 authorizes that a person can cultivate, without requiring a license, up to six cannabis plants for recreational purposes in the residence, as long as it is not for commercialization or profit.
The plant in question
The College of Physicians, in a statement, pointed out that a core issue is that the action of the substance does not impact everyone equally. The main psychoactive substance in marijuana cannabis sativa and also responsible for most of the effects described as pleasant is delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).
Normally found in the human body is a substance called anandamide, a neurotransmitter that sends chemical messages throughout the nervous system. It is a “natural” cannabinoid, so to speak that we all have in our brain.
Because of anandamide’s similarity to the THC found in marijuana, it is able to compete with, crowd out, and fool the body, so to speak, altering communication in and out of the brain.
When THC adheres to the cannabinoid receptors of the neurons, areas of the brain that are related to pleasure, memory, thought, concentration, coordination, and perception of time and space are impacted.
“Thus, being able to infiltrate the central nervous system alters the normal functioning of the person using it in a variety of ways,” the message said.
Within these forms, they highlight the impact on memory, the addictive potential, the regulation of balance and posture, and possible impacts on the heart and digestive system.
However, they clarify that “these alterations and their impact on the human body will depend on multiple factors typical of recreational cannabis, such as the potency of the drug, the amount consumed, the method of consumption, the frequency, the individual’s genetics and the stage of the person’s life.
Other voices against
These institutions join the voice of the interim director of the Judicial Investigation Agency (OIJ), Randall Zúñiga, who last November 22 He commented that classifying marijuana as recreational means sending a message to Costa Rican society in general and to young people, in particular, that the use of this drug is good, that it is like family recreation and sports, which are recreational.
In addition, Michael Soto, head of the OIJ’s Office of Planning and Operations (OPO), alleged that the United Nations (UN) World Drug Report for 2022 refutes the theory that legalizing marijuana reduces violent crime and against property.