A bill (369/2021) to allow veterinarians to prescribe cannabis products has been introduced in Brazil’s Chamber of Deputies. Under the terms of the bill, products must be authorized by the Brazilian regulatory authorities or, in the case of imported products, their counterparts in the country of origin. If the government does not issue specific regulations for veterinary products, the bill provides that products must follow existing rules for human-use products.
As the bill’s statement of motives explains, many Brazilian vets are already prescribing cannabis products. At the moment, veterinary use of cannabis products is neither allowed nor prohibited. The bill seeks to end this “legal limbo,” as it describes the situation.
The bill’s sponsor is Deputy João Carlos Bacelar, of the Podemos party. Interestingly, Podemos is not generally pro-cannabis. As recently as August 20202, Podemos Senator Eduardo Girão described as an “aberration” a separate medical cannabis bill (399/2015), adding that “maconha is a drug that destroys families.” In his view, treating epilepsy is an excuse to normalize cannabis in Brazil, at the behest of the narcobusiness (narconegócio) lobby. (Girão does support the regulatory approval of specific medicines that contain cannabis). For his part, Podemos Deputy Diego Garcia referred to the bill “a Trojan horse” for recreational cannabis.
Despite Podemos’ hostility, the medical cannabis bill continues its lengthy path to approval (yes, 2015 stands for the year when it was introduced). A new version of the proposed law would allow medical cannabis and industrial hemp cultivation in Brazil, with the aim of increasing supply. The prescription of cannabis products for medical use has been authorized since 2014, yet cultivation remains illegal. Reliance on imports makes costs prohibitive for large segments of the Brazilian population, according to Deputy Pablo Teixeira, who presides the commission evaluating the bill. However, the COVID-19 pandemic and municipal elections have delayed the commission’s evaluation of the replacement text.
Home cultivation would not be permitted under the bill, but it is worth noting that courts have been granting habeas corpus petitions from citizens seeking to grow their own cannabis. For example, in March 2020, a federal judge in Pernambuco granted a habeas writ to a woman who sought to make her own cannabis oil to treat her son’s seizures. In February 2021, a Sao Paulo judge granted the first collective habeas, to an association of 21 families. It will be interesting to see if this trend leads to judicial decisions of broader application.