Drugs in Costa Rica
The most popular drugs in Costa Rica are alcohol, cigarettes and marihuana (still illegal in the country) but other illicit substances are being consumed and during the last years, the usage of drugs in Costa Rica had increased, except for the cigarettes due to an anti-tobacco law in 2012.
Drugs, especially alcohol, are being mostly consumed by people around 20 and 49 years old,and mostly men.
Here´s a graphic made by the University of Costa Rica showing how easy it is to get the different types of drugs in the country. The drugs in the graphic are: marihuana, cocaine, crack, ecstasy, heroin, LSD or acids. Blue stands for don’t know/don’t answer, orange for hard/very hard, gray for regular and yellow for easy/very easy.
The government does a lot of campaigns and efforts of conscientization for regular consumers of drugs and for the vulnerable population but it is not enough to avoid this problem. Security in Costa Rica haven´t been capable of really fighting against narcotrafficking. By this point, some initiatives won´t do it and it is needed to address drug consumption as a general health issue.
All the laws against drug use in Costa Rica are focused on protecting public health and humanity wellness. This means that some government institutions are involved in providing social and medical attention, education, work related, economic and cultural tools to improve the condition of drug users. To achieve this, it is key to decriminalize drug consumption so people with addiction can seek the help they need.
Meanwhile, stereotypes and labels only isolate, discriminate and violate the drug users basic human rights. Not all drug addicts are criminals or dangerous. As a matter of fact, most addicts in Costa Rica are highly functional. Those hate campaigns only provoke the drug users to walk away from support and attention.
Some schools plan visits from K-9 police for dogs to sniff student’s belongings and common areas. Even in some private schools it is known that one of the tuition´s rules is to give a doping test to the minors. Those things happen in private offices and companies, but it is illegal.
Consuming drugs in Costa Rica is not illegal unless you are in public areas. However, the police are very violent with consumers and they take away the drugs if they find any, it doesn’t matter if it is being consumed right there or not. Every day there are more and more activists trying to get marihuana to be a legal drug in the country, above all, for medical purposes.
During the Covid-19 pandemic, IAFA is receiving 50% less of visits for rehab. This, sadly, doesn’t mean that less people are consuming drugs, it means people are consuming more drugs and don´t care about rehab or getting better.
With regulation of drugs, most of the problems described in this article could be fixed because the wrongdoer is the drug dealer, the gang fights, territory killings and all the social problems the vulnerable communities have to face, communities where there are underage people in danger.