With the recent reports of a company called Greenleaf Holding Technologies being accused of possibly questionable dealings in the proposed medical cannabis area in Costa Rica, I feel I should comment and clarify some issues.
When I first decided to help the Medical Cannabis movement in Costa Rica, I contacted Gerald Murray because his name was in the paper as having an interest. I had no previous knowledge of Mr. Murray. I was told by him that some Senators wanted to see the Cannabis Industry in Colorado.
I volunteered to set up the trip to make sure the Senators got to see many cannabis- related businesses and understand the cannabis industry. Using my contacts in Colorado, we had 3 full days of meetings, because unless you have seen it personally, it is hard to understand the benefits and also the challenges of setting up a workable medical cannabis program. There are many things to be considered.
The GreenLeaf Investigation:
My interest was always to put together resources in legislative, administrative, extraction, cultivation and tracking sectors for the government in Costa Rica, with the goal of creating a strong and workable program, fully informed, from the application process for various licenses all the way through to education, cultivation, testing and distribution of the medicine to patients.
I have been involved in the Medical Tourism business in Costa Rica for nine years and I am well aware of the many problems the CAJA has with both service and finances. It was our hope that medical cannabis would be an effective and cost-efficient medicine for Costa Rica.
I never wanted any type of license for myself or for others. I only wanted to make available the experts with experience to help Costa Rica design and implement a quality Medical Cannabis program because it could provide great help to the people.
I was told by Mr. Murray that there were two bills pending in the congress. Later I found out that this and other statements were not true. After that trip, I only ran into Mr. Murray once more at the Legislative Building. It became apparent that our interests were not the same.
Last July, we held the Latin American Medical Cannabis Conference in San Jose to bring together those with experience in the field and interested people in Costa Rica. The speakers were experts from the U.S. in cannabis legislation, extraction, cultivation and other disciplines. Mr Murray and his associates did not attend, nor were they involved in any way.
Those who did attend learned about the many benefits that Medical Cannabis has and how it has helped hundreds of thousands of people worldwide. I will never forget the passionate speech that one of the Costa Rican Senators gave. He had seen what the children were going through with seizures and how CBD Oil or RS Oil could have helped them.
I have said many times that the way the bill was set up, it was doomed to fail: too many licenses, the proposed cost of the licenses and the government being committed to buy the cannabis from the growers. Anyone with any business knowledge would not want to sign up at these license fees of $100,000, let alone the projected increase to $300,000. There would be no way to cover costs, let alone make any profit.
The success of any Medical Cannabis program is only as good as the number of people signing up for the program. I have said from the beginning that Costa Rica would first have to educate the Doctors and the people about the many benefits of Medical Cannabis, and in doing so, remove the stigma associated with cannabis use. Doctors and patients will not participate without education and the assurance that they will have quality medicine that is tested and controlled.
Who in their right mind would buy 1 of 42 proposed Grow licenses for $300,000 if only 2000 people sign up in the first two years? Remember, the proposed license fee of $300,000 was just for the license, then there is the cost of the buildout of the grow facility, buildings, lights, equipment, security, labor etc,, which would be another $500,000 to $1 million for a large indoor grow.
In addition, with the government buying all the Cannabis from the growers at $6 per gram, the government would have many pounds of Cannabis sitting in a warehouse and going to waste. If every size grow license was sold, the government would have to buy about 30,000 pounds. If only 2000 people signed up to use Medical Cannabis and each used 1 oz per month, that’s only 1500 pounds per year. What happens to the rest? The government will have paid for product that will never be used. Costa Rica cannot afford such a thing.
The numbers Mr. Murray was feeding anyone who would listen to him were all wrong and very inflated, and without many improvements to the current bill, it was domed from the start. To look at this as something profitable to individuals rather than as providing medicine to patients is against the rights of the Costa Ricans and not in anyone’s best interest. And currently, for the population here, the numbers anyone may have believed to be possible are highly inflated upon even the most elementary examination.
I had heard that some people were trying to sell licenses, and for months on our website we had posted in red lettering to watch out for this scam. I never heard who these people were until this story emerged. Frankly, I feel the people who say they were scammed bear the blame equally with the alleged scammers. The numbers are not realistic, and no one at this point has any authority to lobby the government for licenses when passage of the law has stalled. They wanted to take the easy way and that never works.
The court will decide what really happened in this situation, but the allegations against Greenleaf have set back for a long time the chances of a Medical Cannabis law being successfully passed. It is a shame that the people who can use the cannabis medicine—children with severe seizures, cancer patients, Parkinson’s patients and many others— will not be getting it because of this alleged misinformation and personal greed.
Costa Rica was not our only project in this field, as we were active in Nevada pushing for passage of the Recreational Cannabis legislation. That law passed last November, and State of Nevada government is setting regulations for implementation as early as July 1,2017. We will be leaving Costa Rica and moving to Nevada to set up a Cannabis informational website, helping people understand the new law and to operate within its framework.
I hope our work here in Costa Rica has helped lay the groundwork for a smart and well-designed Medical Cannabis program. The hardworking people of Costa Rica deserve nothing less. The laws and programs should be designed for them, not for the benefit or personal gain of any individuals or groups.
I hope the people growing quality cannabis and making oils in Costa Rica continue to do so to help the many people that need the oil. Just last night I was contacted by someone looking for CBD oil to help a family member. Medical Cannabis works and the science behind it goes every week.
Instead of trying to work with the congress, suing the government and working in the courts may work faster. In Costa Rica everyone is entitled to medicine and if some doctors start prescribing CBD and CBD with THC Oil, it may move this along faster.