Bill 399, approved by a House committee on Tuesday (8) and which regulates the medicinal and industrial cultivation and production of cannabis in Brazil, was demonized by the governing right, celebrated by the liberal right and criticized by the left, which accepted the proposal to from the harm reduction logic: better this than nothing.
It also left the patient associations, which commemorate the anti-prohibitionist victory in an era of setbacks in progressive agendas, divided, while at the same time resenting the obligation to adapt to the parameters of cultivation and associative production created by the law.
President Jair Bolsonaro (non-party) has already mocked that “funny, marijuana can, chloroquine can’t”, and the governing wing called the bill “general liberated” and accused him of “legalization” of marijuana, despite the text of 32 pages establish norms, restrictions and controls for the cultivation of hemp for industrial production (raw material without psychoactive substance intended for cosmetics, food, fabric, etc.) and for medicines with scientifically proven action.
In Israel, products made from cannabis, even the fresh plant, are standardized and prescribed by doctors. Local companies make money growing marijuana, in addition to developing and exporting medicines, opportunities that Brazil is missing.
During the session of the Chamber committee, Deputy Osmar Terra (MDB-RS) even called the approval a “monstrosity”. Terra’s denial stance in the field of drug policy predates those in relation to drugs without scientific evidence for Covid-19.
In previous sessions of the commission, deputy Diego Garcia (Podemos-PR) lost control and tried to scream at the president of the commission Paulo Teixeira (PT-SP). And Roberto Jefferson, from the PTB, threatened with punishment those deputies of the party who voted in favor of PL 399.
The left field, on the other hand, criticized what it sees as market orientation and the absence of debates linked to justice and human rights. The reading is that, by establishing rules and bureaucracies that can only be followed by medium or large companies, it opens the doors of the Brazilian market to Canadian and American medical marijuana giants, as well as Israeli companies that are emerging in the sector.
The project also regulates scientific research on Cannabis in the country, in an advance celebrated by the scientific community.
It is worth remembering that the bill did not release medical marijuana in Brazil. Since 2015, the compassionate use of cannabidiol for therapeutic purposes is allowed in the country. In 2019, Anvisa (National Health Surveillance Agency) regulated the sale of cannabis-based products in pharmacies, and in 2020 it registered the first product of its kind. Although for the agency these products are not medicines but phytopharmaceuticals, the purchase depends on a doctor’s prescription with a special prescription.
However, as the cultivation of marijuana is not allowed in the country, medicines or their inputs have to be imported, resulting in higher costs for the patient or for the SUS and preventing the activity from generating profits that remain in Brazil.
The demand for drugs based on Cannabis increased more than 5 times in recent years in the country. In 2015, there were 902 requests for authorization to import. In the first half of 2019 they reached more than 5,300.
The Drug Law has established since 2006 that the Union can authorize the cultivation of marijuana for medicinal and scientific purposes, without this step being taken. In the Judiciary, a Direct Unconstitutionality Action (Adi 5708), which calls for the decriminalization of cannabis for medical purposes, and an Extraordinary Appeal (RE 635659) on decriminalization of possession for personal use have been stuck in the STF for years.
Faced with these omissions, the step taken by the Legislature from the creation of the commission is important, as it advanced an agenda always destined for the Congressional drawer.
However, with the entire political spectrum more or less dissatisfied and the Bolsonaro government categorically positioning itself against any kind of flexibilization involving marijuana, one sees the size of the challenge that Brazil will have to regulate a robust national market for medical marijuana , which offers patients standardized, safe and, above all, affordable medicines.