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Brazil becomes largest country to legalize marijuana


Brazil legalized personal use of marijuana on Wednesday, making the country of 203 million people the largest to take such a measure and the latest sign of growing acceptance of the drug worldwide.

Brazil’s Supreme Court rules Brazilians can possess up to 40 grams of marijuana Enough for about 80 joints — will not face penalties, and the decision will take effect within a few days and will be valid for the next 18 months.

The court asked Brazil’s Congress and health authorities to set a fixed amount of marijuana that citizens can possess. Selling marijuana will remain a crime.

Legal analysts say thousands of Brazilians are serving jail terms for possessing marijuana below the new standards. It is unclear how the ruling will affect those convictions.

Many are black men, who make up 61 percent of drug trafficking cases but 27 percent of the general population. proved Thousands of black Brazilians have been convicted of crimes, while white people have faced fewer or no charges.

Brazil has long taken a tough approach to drug crimes, so its decision to allow citizens to smoke marijuana is A significant shift Public opinion and public policy on cannabis have changed over the past two decades, with more than 20 countries now legalizing or decriminalizing recreational use of the drug, most of them in Europe and America.

Mexico 2021Luxembourg did the same last year;Germany April.

Canada and Uruguay have allowed licensed marijuana sales for years. Many other countries have legalized marijuana, meaning they have abolished criminal penalties for possessing small amounts, although marijuana is still technically illegal and authorities crack down on traffickers.

In many cases, the changes are part of a broader policy shift toward treating drug use as a health issue rather than a criminal offense.

Marijuana remains illegal at the federal level in the United States, but states can now set their own policies. Since voters in Colorado and Washington first approved recreational use of marijuana in 2012, More than half of Americans Live in a state where marijuana is legal.

Seven in ten Americans now believe marijuana should be legal. According to Gallupup from 31% in 2000.

The opposite is true in Brazil, where far fewer Brazilians support marijuana than Americans, despite the country’s current federal policy on marijuana being more lenient than in the United States.

Less than a third of Brazilians support legalizing marijuana A survey in March Brazilian polling agency Datafolha conducted a survey of 2,000 people.

However, Angela May, head of research at the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, said the liberalization of drug policies had led to a change in attitudes in many parts of the world.

“There has been a decline in the perception of the risks of cannabis, as reflected in the percentage of young people who think cannabis is harmful,” she said. “There have been significant declines in North America and Europe.”

Brazil’s Supreme Court finally legalized marijuana after nearly a decade of deliberations in a 2009 case that centered on a 55-year-old man who was found in possession of three grams of marijuana while in jail in Sao Paulo on another charge. He was sentenced to two months of community service, but his lawyers appealed, arguing that punishing drug users violated Brazil’s constitution.

The Supreme Court had delayed a ruling on the case since 2015 because the justices disagreed over how to distinguish between drug users and dealers, which drugs should be legalized and who should be responsible for setting drug policy. The court reached a majority opinion on Tuesday and finally issued its ruling on Wednesday.

Chief Justice Luis Roberto Barroso said in his ruling that the verdict was not an indulgence of marijuana use but an acknowledgement of failed drug policies that have led to the incarceration of large numbers of poor young people and forced many of them into organized crime.

“We never legalized drug use, nor did we say drug use was a good thing,” he said. “The strategy we adopted was not effective.”

In 2006, Brazil’s Congress passed a law aimed at increasing penalties for drug traffickers and reducing penalties for drug users.

The law calls for lighter forms of punishment, such as community service, for drug users. However, it is vague about what constitutes a drug dealer, and critics say police and prosecutors are using it to put more drug users in jail.

Ten years after the law was passed, the percentage of prisoners detained on drug charges increased from 9% to 28%. According to Human Rights Watch.

Studies have shown that black men Disproportionately affectedA study of drug cases in Sao Paulo, Brazil’s largest city, from 2010 to 2020 showed that police classified 31,000 black Brazilians as drug traffickers while white people were treated as drug users, according to Brazil’s Insper Institute for Education and Research.

“In the application of drug laws, skin color matters,” said Cristiano Maronna, director of Justa, a research group that studies Brazil’s justice system. “The darker your skin,” he said, “the more likely you are to be charged with drug trafficking, even for small amounts.”

In its ruling, the Supreme Court aimed to clarify the line between drug possession and drug trafficking. The court said if someone is found in possession of other items commonly used to sell drugs, such as scales, they could still be charged with drug trafficking.

Mr. Marona said that despite the new policies, Brazil’s drug laws remain the toughest in Latin America, contributing to overcrowding in the country’s prisons. Brazil has the third-highest prison population in the world, behind the United States and China.

Even before the new marijuana policy is finalized, Brazil is already fighting to repeal it. Conservatives in the country’s Congress are pushing a bill that would amend the constitution to criminalize any possession of marijuana.

Congressional leaders say the issue should be left to Congress to decide, and most lawmakers oppose legalizing drugs.

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