Brownbag: Drug Policy in Costa Rica: Work in Process

By Ernesto Cortés

Costa Rica has one of least repressive drug policies in the region: Drug use and possession are decriminalized, there is a public health policy for drug treatment and a law reform that reduced punishment for women that introduce drugs in prisons. At an international level, Costa Rica has also been playing an important role, as government position on UNGASS has joined the efforts of other foreign policy offices like Colombia, Mexico, Guatemala and Uruguay. This context has created a good opportunity to incorporate harm reduction perspectives on public health policies and to discuss on the disproportionate punishments against low lever drug dealers and alternatives to incarceration. Even though government institutions are looking strongly on health care perspective on drug issues, there is still little involvement of civil society on this debate.

Ernesto Cortés has a bachelor degree on Social Anthropology from the University of Costa Rica (UCR), a Master´s degree on criminology form University for International Cooperation (UCI), and a Master´s degree on mental health from the University Miguel Hernandez in Valencia, Spain. He is currently Executive Director of the Costa Rican Association for Drugs Studies and Interventions (ACEID) and professor at the Master on Drug Dependence from the Faculty of Pharmacy of the UCR. It is representative of the Research Consortium on Drugs and the Law  (CEDD), the International Consortium on Drug Policy (IDPC), the Latin American Network of People who Use Drugs (LANPUD) and the National Network of Civil Organizations for Migration in Costa Rica (REDNAM). He has extensive experience working on research and advocacy issues such as drug use, harm reduction, young people and community engagement; where he has also published several scientific articles.