In Brazil, cannabis is illegal. However, the possession and the cultivation of small quantities or amounts for personal and private use have been decriminalized since 2006. In 2017, the government allowed limited cannabis-based medicines.
History of cannabis in Brazil
Portuguese colonists introduced cannabis to Brazil in the early 1800s. The original intent of the colonizers may have been to grow and cultivate hemp fiber. However, the African slaves that the Portuguese brought with them were familiar with the cannabis plant and they used it psychoactively. This is what eventually led the Municipal Council of Rio de Janeiro in 1830 to ban cannabis from entering the city.
Despite the legal status of cannabis in the country, it is still commonly used.
Cannabis legislation and enforcement
In some cities, police officers can be very lenient when it comes to weed. Some are also very strict and intolerant. So, if you are caught doing cannabis-related activities, you may either be arrested or fined, or you may just be allowed to go without even getting a warning. It just depends on where you are and on the kind of cops that caught you.
Since 2006, the public consumption of cannabis would get you a warning, an order to do community service, and an order to undergo an education program on the effects of using drugs.
Meanwhile, selling, trafficking, and transporting cannabis are considered criminal acts and are therefore punishable by five to 15 years in jail, plus a significant fine.
Legalization of medical cannabis
In 2015, the Brazilian National Health Surveillance Agency (ANVISA) authorized the use of CBD or cannabidiol in the treatment of multiple sclerosis, severe seizures, and other medical conditions. From being an illegal substance, CBD was reclassified to “controlled.” ANVISA President Jaime Oliveira announced that CBD is non-addictive and non-psychoactive, and said that there is no reason for the government to continue forbidding it.
The import of CBD-based products, however, was authorized since 2014.
However, it wasn’t until two years after, in January 2017, that Brazil issued the first license for a cannabis-based medicine and allowed the sale of Sativex, or Mevatyl oral spray. Medical Marijuana Inc. was the first company to be allowed by the Brazilian government to import hemp CBD oil.
Anvisa has enacted regulations for the domestic cultivation of medical cannabis for the purposes of extract production and scientific research.