stub Is Weed Legal in Brazil? (April 2024) -
Connect with us


Is Weed Legal in Brazil? (April 2024)

Updated on

Yes, medical cannabis is legal in Brazil, though it remains illegal for recreational and non-medical purposes.  However, there have been some recent developments in the country's stance on cannabis.

About Brazil

Brazil is the largest country in South America and the fifth-largest in the world by both land area and population. It covers nearly half of South America's landmass and is home to a diverse range of ecosystems, including the Amazon rainforest, the Pantanal wetlands, and the Atlantic Forest. Brazilians have a deep passion for soccer (or futebol, as it is known in Portuguese).

Medical Cannabis in Brazil

Under Brazilian Federal Law, the importation, manufacturing, and sale of cannabis-based medicines are permitted. Previously, only importation and sale were allowed with authorization from the Ministry of Health.

Starting from 2015, Brazil has allowed the prescription of cannabis medications containing over 0.2% THC for terminally ill patients or individuals who have exhausted alternative treatment options. Initially, these medications could only be imported with special authorization from Anvisa (National Health Surveillance Agency). However, in 2019, the regulations were relaxed, enabling pharmacy sales of these medications. Medications with THC content below 0.2% have fewer restrictions on prescription.

In January 2017, Brazil issued its first license for a cannabis-based medicine, permitting the sale of Mevatyl oral spray (known internationally as Sativex). This marked a significant milestone in the country's approach to cannabis-based medicines.

In December 2019, Brazil's National Health Surveillance Agency (ANVISA) approved regulations that allow the sale of cannabis-based medicines with a prescription. These medicines must have a specific THC and CBD content and can only be sold in pharmacies. This decision was a significant step towards the recognition of the medical benefits of cannabis in Brazil.

Currently, manufacturers must obtain a Certificate of Good Manufacturing Practice from the Brazilian National Agency for Sanitary Surveillance (ANVISA) to produce and sell cannabis-based medicines. They also need an operating permit, special authorization, and technical documentation on product quality, in addition to meeting other requirements set by ANVISA. Once authorized by ANVISA, manufacturers can sell the medicines to pharmacies nationwide, but they can only be sold to patients with a medical prescription.

Regarding importation, commercial importation is authorized for one specific drug. However, there is a list of cannabis-based medical products that patients can directly import if they have obtained the necessary authorization. Manufacturers can import cannabis extract or semi-processed substances to produce medicines  in Brazil, but the plant itself or its parts cannot be imported.

Is Cannabis Decriminalized in Brazil?

Yes, Brazil has decriminalized the possession of small amounts of cannabis. In April 2021, the Brazilian Supreme Court ruled that the possession of small amounts of drugs for personal use, including cannabis, should not be considered a criminal offense. Instead, it should be treated as an administrative offense, subject to penalties such as educational programs, community service, or fines. The court's decision aimed to shift the focus from punitive measures to a more health-oriented approach. However, it's essential to understand that the ruling does not legalize cannabis or any other drugs for personal use. The possession of larger quantities of drugs or involvement in drug trafficking remains a criminal offense.

Is Recreational Cannabis Legal in Brazil?

No, recreational cannabis is not legal in Brazil. According to Brazilian Federal Law, the cultivation, planting, and harvesting of drugs are strictly prohibited, unless for medical or scientific purposes. Decree No. 9,761/19 specifically prohibits the cultivation, planting, and importation of plants associated with illicit drugs, unless explicitly authorized by the Federal Union through a formal process.

 Is Hemp Legal in Brazil?

Currently hemp has not been legalized in Brazil, but this may change soon.  The Superior Court of Justice (STJ), Brazil's highest appeals court, has agreed to adjudicate a case that could authorize businesses and farmers to cultivate cannabis. However, even if the case yields a favorable outcome, Brazil may still require several years to establish a comprehensive legal framework for the hemp industry.

DNA Solucoes em Biotecnologia has petitioned the court to permit the importation of cultivation seeds and the cultivation of industrial hemp. A final ruling is anticipated from the court within the next 12 months.

While this case has the potential to establish a legal precedent in Brazil, the country still lacks specific laws and regulations to govern the cannabis industry, as noted by Lorenzo Rolim da Silva, the President of the Latin American Industrial Hemp Association (LAIHA).

Is CBD Legal in Brazil?

The use of CBD by patients is not prohibited in Brazil, but it is subject to restrictions and control by ANVISA. Patients who require CBD treatment must have a medical prescription. Since CBD is not produced in Brazil, it must be imported. It is typically prescribed for patients with severe illnesses for which there are no satisfactory registered therapeutic alternatives in Brazil.

Can I Grow Weed at Home in Brazil?

Growing cannabis is not legal in Brazil. Although a previous bill proposed allowing the cultivation of cannabis for the production of cannabis-based medicines, it was rejected by ANVISA. Currently, another bill is progressing that aims to authorize the commercialization of medicines containing cannabis extracts, substrates, or parts of the cannabis sativa plant in their formulation. If approved by both the Congress and Senate, the cultivation of cannabis for medical purposes may be authorized in the country.

Due to the restrictions on cannabis cultivation in Brazil, entering the medical cannabis business requires importing either the final medical product or cannabis extract for manufacturing within the country.

However, in June last year, a five-judge bench in Brazil unanimously voted in favor of three patients seeking to cultivate medical cannabis at home for personal use. The five judges expressed faith that this would trigger the legislature to formulate laws that govern the home cultivation of cannabis.

Will Brazil Legalize Weed?

In the last couple of years, Brazil's government has made several strides towards cannabis reform. Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva's election into a third term as Brazil’s president is a signal for even greater cannabis reform in Latin America’s largest economy.