Brazilian court to rule on local cannabis production
A Brazilian appeals court has agreed to rule on whether companies and farmers can plant cannabis in the country, which could pave the way for legal cultivation for medical and industrial purposes, after the Legislative efforts have been stalled in recent years.
The decision of the Superior Court of Justice (STJ), Brazil's highest court of appeal for non-constitutional matters, was made public on March 14 and established its jurisdiction for a national precedent regarding the importation of seeds and the planting of cannabis.
Now all pending cases involving permission to plant cannabis in the country will be frozen until the STJ makes a final and binding decision, two lawyers who are following the case said.
Brazil allows the sale and production of cannabis products, but companies must import key ingredients.
The court's final ruling on cannabis, expected sometime next year, could make her a forerunner on a topic rejected by many conservative-leaning members of Brazil's Congress, such as the ruling by the 2011 Supreme Court clearing the way for same-sex marriage.
Brazil has banned the cultivation of Cannabis sativa L, the plant that gives hemp and marijuana. Cannabis researchers and companies have argued that Brazil's tropical climate is ideal for making it a top global supplier.
Cannabis advocates argue that banning domestic cultivation increases the end cost of drugs for consumers who must rely on imports.
“Congress is a little afraid to weigh in on the cannabis issue because it’s controversial,” said Arthur Arsuffi, a lawyer representing biotech startup DNA Solucoes em Biotecnologia in the case before the STJ. “So this delayed the decision-making and, given the number of trials, the judiciary ends up having to decide the issue.
DNA sued for the right to import seeds and plant cannabis containing more cannabinoids, such as cannabidiol (CBD), and less tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), a psychoactive component of the plant. Hemp, which contains less than 0,3% THC and significantly more CBD, has been touted by some advocates as beneficial for treating health conditions such as childhood epilepsy.
Jose Bacellar, chief executive of pharmaceutical company VerdeMed, said the courts could now lead the way on cannabis policy, as they have in Canada.
However, Mr. Bacellar said there were risks associated with the STJ's decision on such a complex issue, which he said would be best addressed by a congressional bill to legalize hemp plantations.
Victor Miranda, a lawyer, said the STJ's decision to set a precedent on the matter was in line with Brazilian case law and gave no clear sign of how he would ultimately rule on the merits of the case.
“It’s difficult to speculate on the outcome,” Mr. Miranda said. “But a decision by the STJ is a sign that the Court is concerned about this issue.https://www.reuters.com/world/americas/brazil-court-rule-cannabis-cultivation-may-open-door-planting-2023-03-20/