Photo courtesy of the Ministerio de Seguridad Publica (MSP)

Photo courtesy of the Ministerio de Seguridad Publica (MSP)

(QCOSTARICA) That marijuana be used for medical purposes and then only for extreme cases…but never for smoking is the word from Casa Presidencial (government house) in a bulletin issued Friday afternoon, ahead of the first Central American Conference on medicinal cannabis and hemp in the country, ConnaCosta.

The conference is being held today and tomorrow (June 6 and 7) at the Centro Nacional de la Cultura – Ministerio de Cultura – CENAC and with the support of theMinistry of Culture and Youth (Ministerio de Cultura and Juventud).

The event is to open discussion on the medical use of these substances, raised by a proposed bill presented to the Legislative Assemby by legislator Marvin Atencio of the ruling Partido Acción Ciudadana (PAC) party.

Also opposing the plan by Dr. Atencio is the Institute on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (Alcoholismo y Farmacodependencia – IAFA) and the Costa Rican Drug Institute (Instituto Costarricense sobre Drogas – ICD).

For its part, the Ministry of Health (Ministerio de Salud) reiterated its position stated last week, to endorse the medical use of marijuana, but only as an extreme case.

In favor and taking an active part in ConnaCosta is the U.S. non-governmental organization, Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP).

LEAP’s official speakers at ConnaCosta are Costa Rican officers Enrique Ceciliano, Justin Dolan, and  Carlos Chavarría.

Ceciliano,  who will open the panel discussion on the first day, climbed the ranks of the Costa Rican equivalent of the FBI, the Organismo de Investigación Judicial (OIJ), becoming the section chief of San Isidro de Pérez Zeledón.

Ceciliano says he became aware of the need for change when he realized that “the methods we have been using to control and combat drug trafficking are not giving even the minimum desired results.” He saw how the large fortunes amassed by the traffickers allowed them to buy off the authorities and politicians who used their power to discourage and scare off those who wanted to take on the traffickers.

“The Ministry of Health is a strictly political entity, responding to situations. They should stop handling this issue in an inter-agency body which also involved the Social Security Fund and society,” Ceciliano told La Nacion on Friday.

According to Ceciliano, the Government is concerned that the components of marijuana be manipulated to make people believe that it also includes recreational use of the drug.

“Addictions by marijuana use is a serious public health problem in Costa Rica. According to the IAFA, in recent years it has resulted in an increase of 600% in hospitalizations for disorders associated with marijuana; half of which is of minors. For example, in the National Psychiatric Hospital, the number of admissions increased from 12 in 2009 to 139 in 2012,” noted the government bulletin.

Source: Nacion.com; LEAP; Connacosta.com

Article first appeared on QCOSTARICA. Click here to go to the source article.