Court Ruling Could Lead to Cannabis Planting in Brazil

An appeals court in Brazil reported that it will hand down a ruling that could lead to a significant change in the country’s weed laws.
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According to Reuters, the Superior Court of Justice (STJ), which serves as the top appeals court in Brazil for non-constitutional matters, “has agreed to rule on whether companies and farmers can plant cannabis in the country, which could open the door to legal cultivation for medicinal and industrial purposes after legislative efforts stalled in recent years.” 

The case was brought by a biotech company called DNA Solucoes em Biotecnologia, which is “arguing for the right to import seeds and plant cannabis with higher levels of cannabinoids such as cannabidiol (CBD) and less tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), a psychoactive component in the plant,” according to Reuters. 

Reuters reported that the decision from the appeals court “was made public on March 14 and established its jurisdiction for a nationwide precedent regarding the import of seeds and planting of cannabis.”

And that decision has carried immediate implications.

“Now, all pending cases regarding permission to plant cannabis in the country will be frozen until the STJ makes a final and biding decision,” according to the outlet. “Brazil allows the sale and production of cannabis products, but companies must import the key ingredients. The court’s final ruling on cannabis, expected within the next year, could make it a trailblazer on a topic spurned by many in Brazil’s conservative-leaning Congress, like the Supreme Court’s 2011 ruling paving the way for same-sex marriage.”

Last summer, the Superior Court of Justice ruled that patients in Brazil can grow their own cannabis for medical treatment.

In that decision, the five-judge panel ruled in favor of three patients who had brought the case, authorizing them “to grow cannabis for medical treatment, a decision that is likely to be applied nationwide in similar cases,” the Associated Press reported at the time.

The unanimous decision by the court allowed the “three patients [to] grow cannabis and extract its oil for use in pain relief.”

“The discourse against this possibility is moralistic. It often has a religious nature, based on dogmas, on false truths, stigmas,” Judge Rogério Schietti said in the ruling. “Let us stop this prejudice, this moralism that delays the development of this issue at the legislative, and many times clouds the minds of Brazilian judges.”

Medical cannabis is legal in Brazil, though limited. Recreational marijuana use is prohibited. 

Marijuana legalization did not figure prominently in Brazil’s presidential election last year, with candidates generally steering clear of the issue. 

The winner of that election, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, “does not seem to have a very concrete plan regarding cannabis specifically,” according to Benzinga, which noted that it “remains to be seen if said plan will respond to the claims of the cannabis community; but if we go by his broader drug policy plan, it’s safe to assume it will be more humane than his predecessor’s.”

Reuters has more background on the country’s weed policy:

“Brazil has banned growing Cannabis sativa L, the plant that makes hemp and marijuana. Researchers and cannabis firms have argued that Brazil’s tropical climate is ideally suited to make it a leading global supplier.”

The decision this month by the Superior Court of Justice to rule on the case suggests that the panel is prepared to establish a precedent on the issue. 

Reuters cited the Brazilian lawyer Victor Miranda, who “said the STJ’s decision to set precedent on the matter was consistent with Brazilian jurisprudence and gave no clear sign of how it would ultimately rule on the merits of the case.”

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