By Zach Dyer
Gerald Murray, director of the Costa Rica Medical Cannabis Movement, testified during a legislative commission in favor of medical marijuana, but called for even broader provisions to the medical marijuana bill currently being studied by lawmakers. Ruling Citizen Action Party (PAC) lawmaker Marvin Atencio presented a bill in August 2014 that would legalize the growing, processing and sale of cannabis for medical and industrial use. Costa Rica would be the first country in Central America to legalize medical marijuana if lawmakers decide to pass the proposal. Murray called for reforms to the bill that would allow almost anyone to grow cannabis and expand the medical conditions for which cannabis-based medicine could be used, to include all ailments – not just HIV/AIDS, multiple sclerosis, cancer and epilepsy. He also advocated for a national cannabis laboratory that would be overseen by the Health Ministry and the Costa Rican Social Security System, which operates the country’s socialized health care system.
Murray said he did not advocate legalizing recreational marijuana use. “Instead of talking about new taxes we should be talking about developing new industries like this,” Murray told The Tico Times. The development of a legal medical marijuana market in Costa Rica could be a $1 billion industry, Murray claimed, and put Costa Rica in the vanguard of changing attitudes around the world about cannabis.
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