Brazil’s Senate Social Affairs Committee approved a draft bill on Wednesday to legalize marijuana cultivation for personal medical use.
Though selling and trafficking marijuana carry criminal penalties in Brazil, cultivating cannabis has been decriminalized since 2006. The new bill would lift the penalties currently imposed for marijuana cultivation and allow Brazilians to grow cannabis for personal, therapeutic use, but only in quantities sufficient to meet the needs of a medical prescription.
Senator Marta Suplicy, the bill’s sponsor, asserts that it would make treatment more affordable for Brazilians suffering from multiple sclerosis, epilepsy and a range of other medical conditions. The bill faces opposition from other Senate leaders who cite concerns that the government will be unable to monitor the quality of the drugs produced by individual growers.
The impetus for the bill was a suggestion through Brazil’s “e-Citizenship” program, which allows citizens to propose and weigh in on legislation.
The bill still faces several significant hurdles. Next, it will be considered by the Senate’s Commission on Constitution and Justice, the full Senate, and Brazil’s lower house, the Chamber of Deputies. Brazil’s president-elect, Jair Bolsonaro, will take office on January 1, 2019, and is unlikely to approve the bill due to his strong opposition to drug legalization.