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Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Agustin Diaz

A ballot measure introduced to the Brazilian Senate by an online petition has received an important committee’s approval, Marijuana Moment reports.

The measure received over 100,000 citizen votes. It would legalize cannabis for anyone with a doctor’s prescription. The bill is separate from a bill introduced by Brazil’s Worker’s Party, which would completely legalize adult-use cannabis.

On Wednesday, the Brazilian Senate’s Social Affairs Committee approved the medical cannabis legislation. It now moves on to be considered by the Commission on Constitution and Justice, followed by the Chamber of Deputies. Should the bill pass those committees, it will go to the desk of Brazil’s President-elect Jair Bolsonaro.

President-elect Bolsonaro is expected to be the bill’s major hurdle. Bolsonaro has said he is against all legalization and plans to enforce harsher drug laws. Brazil loosened its drug laws regarding cannabis in 2006, decreasing penalties for possession to community service and mandatory attendance of a drug education program. Some fear Bolsonaro will return to earlier, harsher sentencing guidelines for drug convictions.

Senator Marta Suplicy, a supporter of the bill, encouraged other lawmakers to think of those who would be most helped by medical cannabis.

“We cannot relegate the issue to mere political discussion. More than anything, we need to empathize and put ourselves in the place of the other. In this way we can, as legislators, defend the true essence of health care, which is to mitigate human suffering.” — Brazilian Senator Marta Suplicy, via Marijuana Moment

There are several countries in South America that already have medical cannabis programs but Brazil, the continent’s largest and most populous country, remains a notable hold out. Brazil’s southern border also touches Uruguay, which was the first country in the world to end cannabis prohibition and legalize the plant for adult use.

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