The largest country in South America is mulling over marijuana legalization. Earlier this week, Brazil’s socialist Worker’s Party has introduced a bill that would legalized medical as well as recreational cannabis in the South American country. And while support for legalization is high among voters, the opposition to marijuana reform remains strong in Brazil, writes Calvin Hughes.
Inspired by countries that have repealed cannabis prohibition, the Worker’s Party recently introduced a legalization bill to the nation’s House of Representatives last Tuesday. But that’s probably as far as that legislation will get – despite the fact that a 2014 government survey found that 57 percent of Brazilian’s support the legalization of medical marijuana.
“It’s probably not going to go anywhere, but it’s definitely an issue that is becoming more popular among the left,” Brazil-based journalist Glenn Greenwald explained to Marijuana Moment. “The problem is the Evangelical right is totally against [legalization] on moral grounds.”
This is not the first time moves have been made to loosen cannabis legislation in Brazil either. In 2006 , Brazil decriminalized cannabis, which should have reduced the number of cannabis convictions in the nation-wide. Instead, the prison population grew approximately 55 percent since then, with many inmates serving time for drug-related charges.
Last year, Brazilian Supreme Court Justice Roberto Barroso called on lawmakers to pursue cannabis legalization as a way to reduce gang violence. Justice Barroso added that while repealing cannabis prohibition could have negative consequences, Brazil needs to do something daring to fix the country’s broken legal system.
“We cannot be certain that a progressive and cautious policy of decriminalization and legalization will be successful,” Barroso wrote in an editorial for The Guardian. “What we can affirm is that the existing policy of criminalization has failed. We must take chances; otherwise, we risk simply accepting a terrible situation.”
Meanwhile, crime rates have plummeted in Uruguay after it became the first nation in the world to legalize recreational cannabis use. So if Brazil wants to get serious about improving its justice system, it should look at its southern neighbor as a role model.