Rio de Janeiro is the first Brazilian state to pass legislation for the cultivation and research of cannabis for medicinal purposes. The new legislation follows the 78 court authorizations (Habeas Corpus) for self-cultivation by patients.
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The majority of politicians voted for the new cannabis law
It was a tight vote, but 41 state deputies in Rio de Janeiro passed the first law to support research and cultivation of medical cannabis in Brazil. The text, written by Carlos Minc, guarantees support and guidance to patients and relatives who need the use of the cannabis plant, stimulating its dissemination and possibilities to health professionals.
The politicians, who had already approved the text in March, overthrew the full veto of the governor of RJ, Wilson Witzel. Among the parliamentarians, many were conservatives or policemen, but they started to support the project after meeting children who improved the quality of life by using cannabis-based products.
“Rio de Janeiro is the first state in Brazil that will have a law to support medical cannabis research, and we will have funds for this, which also determines support for families. Especially children and adolescents who need cannabidiol for which Anvisa (Brazilian health agency) gave its approval, but it has to be imported, and it is very expensive. So the project is not about drug policy, it’s about health, research, and social assistance. We are going to fight obscurantism and prejudice, support these families who have to go to court to plant cannabis at home,” said Carlos Minc.
With the fall of the veto, the law comes into force immediately. Among the entities that will promote research for the medicinal use of the cannabis plant are the Vital Brazil Institute, the Oswaldo Cruz Foundation, and the Rio de Janeiro State Research Support Foundation (Faperj). According to the author of the project, the law is important because the great majority of patients do not have financial conditions to import the product or to buy it in the pharmacy, much less can they count on legal advice to get a Habeas Corpus (HC) to the home cultivation.
At the moment, in Brazil, there are 78 judicial authorizations for the individual cultivation of cannabis for exclusively medicinal purposes. The last concession was for a cancer patient in the State of São Paulo, granted on Saturday, June 6th. The data were presented last Friday, June 5th by the lawyer Emílio Figueiredo, during one of the sessions of PTMC Talks (Portugal Medical Cannabis).
Patient associations will be allowed to plant cannabis
The new law approved in Rio de Janeiro regulates the cultivation of cannabis for medicinal purposes by patient associations. However, only in cases authorized by federal legislation. Patient associations may also hold conventions and partnerships with educational and research institutions, aiming to support the analysis of drugs in order to ensure standardization and safety for the treatment of patients.
Apart from the 78 individual authorizations, only one patient association has judicial authorization for the planting of cannabis in Brazil, Abrace Esperança, in the state of Paraíba. The permit, however, is a preliminary injunction and awaits final judgment by the Federal Supreme Court (STF).
For most Brazilians who need cannabis derivatives to treat their diseases, the most common form is importation, upon authorization from Anvisa. Two products are also available in pharmacies, Sativex, which costs around $542 (€480), and Cannabidiol (CBD) from Prati-Donaduzzi, at $426 (€375). The price, however, is inaccessible to the standards of living of Brazilian citizens.
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