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Weed In Brazil: A Guide To Cannabis’ Legal Status In The South American Country

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This article was originally published on 2Fast4Buds and appears here with permission.

Keeping a low profile and enjoying your hobby in secret is the best advice we can give cannabis lovers visiting Brazil.

Despite the fact that Brazil was introduced to cannabis long ago, in colonial times, and that weed is widely consumed in the country, current cannabis laws in Brazil remain mostly prohibitive, and only a few attempts at reform have been made so far. Read on for a comprehensive guide as to the legal situation with cannabis in Brazil.

Use And Personal Possesion Decriminalized

In 2006, Brazil adopted important changes to its anti-drug laws by decriminalizing personal drug use, as well as possession, buying, transporting of small amounts of drugs if they were meant for personal consumption. In strict legal terms, the country de-penalized these actions, as now they aren’t punishable by either jail time or fine. Instead, the police would warn the user of the harmful effects of drugs, request that the user attend an educational program or perform some community service.

We cannot say how much cannabis the court will consider a small, personal amount. These things are at the discretion of the judge who looks at the circumstances of the offense and the background of the offender. All this differs from case to case.

If the user is required to perform some community service, it usually happens at a facility – either medical or educational – that has something to do with the prevention of drug use or the recovery of addicts. The period of time for community service cannot be greater than 5 months for first-time offenders or 10 months for repeat offenders. If the offender refuses to comply, the judge can demand a fine.

In case the drug user needs treatment (which probably isn’t often the case with cannabis), it’s provided free of charge, but mostly in an outpatient manner. As for the fines mentioned earlier, they can be between 40 and 100 day fines. A day fine is calculated based on minimum monthly wages divided by 30.

Driving Under The Influence

In Brazil, driving while intoxicated by marijuana is considered a safety risk and a source of potential harm to others. The punishment would be a jail sentence from 6 months to 3 years. The vehicle in question will be taken into custody, and the driver’s license will be revoked. The punishment is much more severe for someone driving a public transportation vehicle – from 4 to 6 years in prison.

Large-Scale Drug Offenses

Things get much worse for cannabis enthusiasts when it comes to commercial quantities of the substance. If the court decides that you possess it with the intent to sell or in fact do sell it, produce, transport, etc, the fine of 500-1,500 day units will be the least of your worries, as you will also get sent to prison for 5-15 years depending on the circumstances. In the table below, we have compiled some of the drug offenses as treated by Brazil’s Penal Code.














Offense Penalty
Import/Export 5-15 years in prison AND 500-1,500 day fines
Shipment/Delivery/Transporting
Production/Manufacturing
Acquiring/Buying
Selling/Offering for Sale/Supplying Free of Charge
Possession/Storing
Conspiracy to Commit Crimes Listed Above 3-10 years in prison AND 1,200-2,000 day fines
Financing Crimes Listed Above 8-20 years in prison AND 1,500-4,000 day fines
Inducing Drug Use in Others 1-3 years in prison AND 100-300 day fines
Sharing Drugs with Others 6 months – 1 year years in prison AND 700-1,500 day fines

If the court sees you just as a regular citizen with no criminal record and no ties to organized crime, the sentences in the table may be reduced by ⅙-⅔. On the other hand, the punishment for the same crimes can be increased by ⅙-⅔ if the crime crosses borders, the perpetrator is a public official, the crime is committed in or near schools, prisons, campuses, entertainment events, or on public transport, if there’s violence involved, or the target of the crime are children.

The court would also reduce the sentence by ⅓-⅔ if the accused willingly cooperates to bring to justice accomplices or recover – either fully or partially – the money gained from the crime. And the thing to remember about fines is that they can be increased up to tenfold if the court decides that the standard amount is too small to deter the accused from repeating the offense.

Cannabis Cultivation In Brazil

Cannabis growing in Brazil remains illegal. However, if someone is caught growing a small, non-commercial number of plants, clearly intended for personal use, the same rules apply as for possession – meaning the plants will be confiscated and destroyed but no punishment administered. The police would issue the same warning, refer the grower to a drug-use diversion program, or request community service as with other small-time drug offenses.

Large-scale cannabis growing in Brazil is treated the same way as manufacturing of drugs, and the same punishments apply – 5-15 years in prison AND 500-1,500 day fines. (You can see more details in the previous section.) Moreover, the illegal plantation must be immediately destroyed as soon as the police collect enough samples for testing and as evidence. For outdoor plantations, the land used for cannabis cultivation will be expropriated.

No Exemption Made For Hemp

Brazil is one of those rare countries that still don’t allow the cultivation of non-psychoactive cannabis, or hemp, for industrial uses. As far as the country’s laws are concerned, there’s no distinction between different varieties of the plant, and all are equally prohibited. There was a proposal included into a medical marijuana bill (of which more below) that would allow cannabis cultivation for medical purposes, but this proposal was rejected.

The country still uses hemp-based products and allows some cannabis-based pharmaceuticals, but all of them must be imported in their finished form, and it is prohibited to import raw-plant material, let alone produce it domestically.

CANNABIS SEEDS IN BRAZIL

The only form of buying cannabis seeds in Brazil so far is to order them online. You can use any of the large international seed stores that ship globally, such as Fast Buds, or find a Brazilian shop that has Portuguese as its primary language and caters to local growers. Local online seed shops sell cannabis seeds as souvenirs, issuing a warning that germinating them is against the law, but at the same time, they aren’t afraid to give germination instructions or provide a germination guarantee.

LIMITED MEDICAL MARIJUANA PROGRAM

Brazil is slowly starting to recognize the usefulness of cannabis for symptom management in various medical conditions. Since 2015, it has been allowing the use of some non-hemp-based pharmaceuticals (whose THC content is greater than 0.2%). In 2017, the country licensed the first medicine of this kind – Sativex, a high-THC sublingual spray for multiple sclerosis patients.

Initially, Sativex was only imported through a regulatory agency called Anvisa, but in 2019, the rules were relaxed to allow the sale of cannabinoid medicines through pharmacies. Now, in addition to the one pharmaceutical that is imported through state channels, patients have a right to import their cannabis-based medicine individually, provided its use was prescribed by their physician.

Local businesses can also obtain a license to manufacture their own pharmaceuticals from imported extracts, although a lot of red tape is involved in the process. Medical marijuana use is limited to terminally ill or patients with serious conditions for whom other treatment options have proved inefficient.

IS CBD LEGAL IN BRAZIL?

CBD products, meaning those that contain CBD as their primary agent and have no more than 0.2% THC, are sold in Brazil, both online and in pharmacies, but only to patients with a doctor’s prescription. Basically, the same rules apply to CBD medicines as to medical marijuana in general, although it may be easier to obtain a physician’s approval for a product that doesn’t make you high. Currently, all CBD pharmaceuticals in Brazil are imported.

We have failed to find any online store that sells some zero-THC/pure-CBD products without prescription. We have seen claims that such CBD extracts are sold in health-and-wellness shops and similar establishments, but we couldn’t confirm these claims.

IN CONCLUSION

While hardly the most progressive in the world, Brazil’s cannabis policy is lenient enough to make cannabis enthusiasts feel quite safe in the present and have reasonably high hopes for the future. At the same time, one shouldn’t forget that neither cannabis cultivation, nor the consumption of the substance itself are actually legal here, so we advise you to get yourself acquainted with the law before visiting the country. Bon voyage and stay safe!

This article is from an external unpaid contributor. It does not represent Benzinga’s reporting and has not been edited for content or accuracy.



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