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Brazil Lawmaker Puts Marijuana Legalization On the Table

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The leader of Brazil’s Workers’ Party in the lower House chamber introduced legislation to legalize and regulate marijuana for medical and recreational purposes on Tuesday.

In a tweet, federal deputy Paulo Teixeira said that the bill was inspired by international trends and the success of cannabis reform efforts in Uruguay, the United States, Spain and Portugal. Under the bill, Brazil would establish a legal sales system and allow personal cultivation of up to six plants.

Currently, marijuana is illegal in Brazil. The country decriminalized the plant in 2006, but Teixeira proposed legislation faces an uphill battle, Brazil-based journalist Glenn Greenwald told Marijuana Moment. Greenwald authored a report on the benefits of Portugal’s decriminalization policy published by the Cato Institute in 2009.

“It’s probably not going to go anywhere, but it’s definitely an issue that is becoming more popular among the left,” Greenwald said of the new bill. “The problem is the Evangelical right is totally against [legalization] on moral grounds.”

While the country decriminalized marijuana in 2006, that same year judges were given discretion to “determine who is a drug consumer and who is a dealer,” Reuters reported. In the years since, Brazil’s prison population has increased by about 55 percent. A significant proportion of those incarcerated were convicted on drug-related charges.

According to a 2014 government poll, 57 percent of Brazilians support the legalization of medical marijuana.

Last year, Brazilian Supreme Court Justice Roberto Barroso called for legalization as a means to undermine drug gang violence in the country. A date was set for a hearing on the potential decriminalization of marijuana in November, but the vote was “suspended” with no future date set, Barroso wrote in an editorial for The Guardian.

“We cannot be certain that a progressive and cautious policy of decriminalization and legalization will be successful,” he said. “What we can affirm is that the existing policy of criminalization has failed. We must take chances; otherwise, we risk simply accepting a terrible situation.”

This story is developing. We will update the piece when we learn more.

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Photo courtesy of L.C. Nøttaasen.

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Kyle Jaeger is Marijuana Moment's Sacramento-based senior editor. His work has also appeared in High Times, VICE and attn.

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