Landmark Cannabis Case in Costa Rica Could Lead to Decriminalization


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Costa Rica took a step towards becoming the next Latin American country to decriminalize cannabis this week, when attorney Mario Alberto Cerdas Salazar was cleared of cultivation charges on grounds of individual liberties.

Cerdas Salazar was arrested at his home in the city of Alajuela in August, after publicly advocating for a personal right to use and cultivate cannabis for medicinal and gastronomic purposes. He was charged with "drug trafficking," and has been held since.

The Judicial Investigation Organism (OIJ—Costa Rica's answer to the FBI) said they found enough cannabis on the premises to make 5,000 cigarettes. The quantity was also ambiguously put at 170 "plants and leaves of plants." But the OIJ admitted they had no evidence the cannabis was intended for commercial purposes.

"Yes, marijuana cultivation is illegal; nonetheless, it is not a crime if it is not utilized for sale," the judge hearing the case, Carolina Leitón, said. 

Cerdas was arrested in his dining room, where he said he frequently enjoyed a self-prepared dish of scrambled eggs in his own special cannabis sauce. 

(Photo Courtesy of Villa Tortuga Costa Rica)