The Chairman of Brazil’s Committee on Agriculture, Mr. Fausto Pinato, congratulated the members of the committee on discussing the issue. “It is up to the Brazilian Parliament to listen to all sectors and segments. It’s not just about discussing legality, it’s about discussing science. It is necessary to study all the contexts of legislation, inspection, respect the contrary opinion, but the fact is that we can not fail to debate,” he said.
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Medical cannabis demand
Researcher Roberto Fontes Vieira explained to lawmakers that with the growing demand for medical cannabis, there is a need for robust and reliable analytical tests to ensure consumer safety. Vieira addressed the use of hemp, a raw material extracted from a plant that has been used in several countries for medicinal purposes, in the manufacture of various types of products, including food, beverages, and nutritional supplements.
“Brazil has already been a producer of hemp in Maranhão, introduced in the country in the 19th century for the production of fiber. Besides medicinal use, it is a plant used in multiple sectors such as in the manufacture of oils, seeds, and cosmetics. Embrapa has specialists in medicinal plants that can research new uses for the hemp plant, in the case of approval of the law,” he explained.
Important quality assurance
Vieira highlighted the importance of the industry setting a standard for quality assurance. “There are important works in the world on the subject and it is necessary to define what kind of materials will be produced in Brazil,” he said. Regarding the production of oils, he emphasized that it is necessary to develop clear and standardized analytical methods so that they can be compared to what is being researched. It is very important to consider the analysis of cannabinoids and other substances, such as pesticide residues, contamination by heavy materials, contamination in drying processes, because it is a plant that will be used for medicinal purposes.
In Brazil, there is no scientific research on the product, unlike Israel and Canada, which maintain studies in advanced stages. “In order to carry out studies, it is necessary to have legal authorizations, such as the release for the transit of material. There are several factors that need to be regulated,” said Vieira, pointing out that the cultivation should occur in appropriate greenhouses, avoiding decentralized production to ensure non-contamination.
Cannabis has its origin in Asia and today there are few seed banks. The largest are located in Russia and Germany and are difficult to access. “It is necessary to produce genetic material, evaluate it and guarantee the quality of production by the companies. It’s a long way to have the ideal quality crop for a plant that will be used as medicine. Therefore, when it comes to health it is necessary to be careful,” said the Embrapa researcher.
Demands of agricultural defense
Virginia Arantes, general coordinator of Seeds, Seedlings and Cultivation Protection of the Agricultural Defense Secretariat of the Ministry of Agriculture (MAPA), pointed out that due to the possibility of a decision favorable to the release of the plant both for import and for cultivation for medicinal purposes, the MAPA would be prepared to meet the demands from the point of view of agricultural defense. “These are laws that already exist and are consolidated and apply to any plant species, so there would be no need for regulatory changes under the Ministry of Agriculture,” she said.
The public hearing was attended by representatives of the General Coordination for Drug Repression of the Federal Police; the Secretariat of Science and Technology and Strategic Inputs of the Ministry of Health; the Brazilian Bar Association (OAB Nacional); the Federal Council of Engineering and Agronomy; researchers from the University of Viçosa and Indeov Medicinal Cannabis and Verdemed – a Canadian-based pharmaceutical company responsible for the formulation of cannabinoid-based products.
Cannabis medical prescription
Since 2015, Anvisa has authorized the medical prescription of Cannabis. The difficulty lies in obtaining the product. With commercialization prohibited in Brazil, medicines must be imported. With a prescription, the patient must sign a disclaimer and wait for Anvisa’s authorization. Importation by companies for distribution in Brazil is forbidden.
The authorization is granted individually for each patient. Cannabis has been used for patients with epilepsy, chronic pain, Alzheimer’s, and multiple sclerosis. Substances such as cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) already have recognized anxiolytic, antidepressant and anti-inflammatory effects.
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First published in Smoke Buddies, a third-party contributor translated and adapted the article from the original. In case of discrepancy, the original will prevail.
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