In the absence of true regulation comes necessity, and necessity is the mother of all invention.
Marijuana.com has been on location in Costa Rica where we had the opportunity to interview an underground activist who grows cannabis and supplies it to patients in need of treatment. With no existing medical marijuana system in this Central American paradise, despite movements in that direction, this man quietly assesses people’s needs and tries to locate the right strains or products to help.
His name is Diego G., also known as “Raven,” and he lives in the San Jose area. Raven is reluctant to use the term “fixer” when describing his calling to help people. “I wouldn’t call myself a fixer, I’m an activist. I’m the person who, every single day, is finding ways to reform the drug policy. The drug war as it is right now is a complete and utter failure.”
Raven added that he doesn’t just give patients safe access to marijuana, he also assesses their specific treatment needs based on his extensive knowledge of cannabis. “I wish I could tend to everybody, but I can’t … what I cultivate is what I can provide to people.”
Through fifteen years of experience growing cannabis, as well as studying the most recent university studies on places like PubMed, Raven applies his knowledge to the daily task of speaking with people in need to find out how he can help them.
One of the major challenges for this unlicensed cannabis pharmacist in Central America is obtaining the right strains to grow for his patients, which of course needs to be done illegally. “We get [the strains] the only way we can, through international [seed] banks and risking our ass.” Thankfully, Raven has never had a problem with law enforcement, but he is fully aware of their potential impact on his work.
So why stick your neck out this far in a country that is clearly miles behind other cannabis reformed nations?
“What drives me is the failure of cannabis reform not only in my country but on the whole American continent, which is mainly promoted by the United States. The continuing discourse of saying that drugs are bad for you and to “just say no.” The [drug policy] has not only failed, it has become a corrupt system.”
Costa Rica made waves recently with a new bill to establish a medical marijuana system, but progress is slow in the tropical paradise. “[The Costa Rican President] is not for or against [medical marijuana]but evidently he follows the [U.S.] drug policy.” Raven believes that the Costa Rican government wants to stay in America’s good graces, and as a result, his country adheres to American drug policies.
“There was a bill presented by Marvin Atencio, which was from the official governing party. This bill [is for] state-run cannabis legalization. They [don’t] want self-cultivation and that is something that is resentful to us. We’ve told them to give us self-cultivation, let us grow our own plants.” Raven added that he understands and is also for a healthy profit-based cannabis industry in Costa Rica, but feels that the government wants to focus too much on the business aspect and not enough on the needs of Costa Ricans.
From Raven’s point of view, there are four congressmen standing in the way of cannabis reform in Costa Rica. “[They] are from the evangelical movement, very fundamentalist, who are always saying no to abortion, Gay rights, and cannabis legalization.
For the last few years, they’ve blocked the advancement [of legalization].” He said that it’s unlikely the cannabis landscape will change anytime soon because Costa Rica is entering an election year where progressive issues are unlikely to be advanced.
As the Costa Rican government continues to stall, Raven continues to do what he does best — listening to people in need and trying to find whatever cannabis he can to help people enjoy a better quality of life. He does this in the shadows, with seemingly everyone in power against his actions.
To the people he helps, however, Raven is a godsend. He is a necessity in a country that gives its people no other option for cannabis treatment. He is the friendly and illegal Costa Rican pharmacist.