Written by: Med Brazao, Attorney

The debate on the legalization of cannabis and its derivatives has come a long way in Brazil. Currently, the substance is prohibited under the terms of Law. However, the growing demand for medicines and the development of regulatory policies in other countries has influenced the National Sanitary Surveillance Agency (ANVISA) to approve earlier this year the Regulation No. 335/2020, which defined criteria and procedures for the import of Cannabis-derived Products, for personal medical use. Likewise, the Brazilian Congress has debated ways to modify national policy and expand access to cannabis.

Cannabis Bills In Congress

Today, there are about 23 bills in progress in Congress dealing with cannabis. Although some projects come from the prohibitionist culture, aiming to restrict even more access to cannabis and its derivatives, others have raised more realistic debates in the Commissions about which policy will be implemented.

Recently, Bill 399/2015 took a step forward in implementing the regulation of cannabis, being, however, the target of criticism by parents and patient associations. In this sense, the bill, which has only a few articles allows the trade of cannabis sativa or cannabinoid substances, which is deemed reductionist by critics in the way in which it deals with drug policy and domestic production.

Cannabis Proposed Legislation

On the other hand, the proposed legislation extends the already existing administrative regulations made by ANVISA and represents a growing change in Congress that may come to approve new proposals with the same content in a near future.

In this regards, Deputy Paulo Teixeira (PT-SP), head of the commission responsible for debating the Bill, presented a new proposal, amplifying access to cannabis and although it does not deal with social or religious use of cannabis, it was more enthusiastically welcomed by the critics of the original proposal, who consider that the permission for cultivation must be linked to the Unified Health System. SUS, as it is known in Brazil, is one of the largest public health systems in the world and under the new proposal would provide medical marijuana at no charge. 

Notwithstanding, among the proposals in progress in Congress, the Bill 7270/2014 brings more optimistic perspectives, dealing broadly and providing in addition to decriminalization the possibility of recreational and medicinal of cannabis, being a viable option to be discussed in the future and as a possible path of regulating cannabis in Brazil. Considering the size of Latin America’s biggest economy, the regulation of cannabis may open a way to a projected market of US$ 1.1 billion per year.