Hashish for Brazilian pets and their folks

A bill (369/2021) has been introduced in the Brazilian Chamber of Deputies to allow veterinarians to prescribe cannabis products. According to the provisions of the bill, products must be approved by Brazilian regulators or, in the case of imported products, their counterparts in the country of origin. Unless the government enacts specific regulations for veterinary medicinal products, the bill will require products to comply with applicable regulations for products intended for human use.

As the motivational statement of the law explains, many Brazilian veterinarians are already prescribing cannabis products. Currently, the veterinary use of cannabis products is neither allowed nor prohibited. The bill seeks to end this “legal limbo” as it describes the situation.

The sponsor of the bill is Deputy João Carlos Bacelar of the Podemos party. Interestingly, Podemos is not generally for cannabis. In August 20202, Podemos Senator Eduardo Girão called a separate bill on medical cannabis (399/2015) an “aberration” and added 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 lobby (narconegócio). (Girão supports the regulatory approval of certain medicinal products that contain cannabis). For his part, Podemos deputy Diego Garcia referred to the “a Trojan horse” bill on recreational cannabis.

Despite Podemos’ hostility, the Medical Cannabis Law continues its long journey towards approval (yes, 2015 represents the year it was introduced). A new version of the bill would allow medicinal cannabis and industrial hemp to be grown in Brazil to increase supply. Prescribing cannabis products for medicinal purposes has been legal since 2014, but cultivation remains illegal. The dependence on imports makes the cost prohibitive for large parts of the Brazilian population, according to Deputy Pablo Teixeira, who heads the commission that evaluates the bill. However, the COVID-19 pandemic and local elections have delayed the Commission’s assessment of the replacement text.

Home growing would not be allowed under the law, but it’s worth noting that courts have approved habeas corpus petitions from citizens wanting to grow their own cannabis. For example, in March 2020, a federal judge in Pernambuco issued a habeas letter to a woman who wanted to make her own cannabis oil to treat her son’s seizures. In February 2021, a judge in Sao Paulo granted the first collective habeas to an association of 21 families. It will be interesting to see if this trend leads to court decisions of wider application.

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