The decision by the Superior Court of Justice (STJ), Brazil’s highest appeals court for non-constitutional matters, was made public on March 14 and established its competence to set a precedent at the national level in relation to the importation of seeds and the planting of cannabis.
Now, all pending cases regarding the permit to plant cannabis in the country will be frozen until the STJ makes a final decision, said two lawyers who are following the case.
Brazil allows the sale and production of cannabis-derived products, but companies must import key ingredients.
The court’s final decision on cannabis, expected next year, could make it a pioneer on an issue scorned by many in Brazil’s conservative-leaning Congress, such as the 2011 Supreme Court ruling that paved the way for same-sex marriage.
Brazil has banned the cultivation of Cannabis sativa L, the plant from which hemp and marijuana are obtained. Researchers and cannabis companies have argued that Brazil’s tropical climate is ideal to make it one of the world’s leading suppliers.
Proponents argue that the ban on growing in the country raises the final cost of drugs for consumers, who must rely on imports.
“Congress is a little afraid to decide on the cannabis issue as it is controversial,” said Arthur Arsuffi, a lawyer representing biotech company DNA Solucoes em Biotecnologia in the case before the STJ. “So that has postponed a decision and, given the number of lawsuits, the judiciary ends up having to resolve the issue.”
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