Brazil’s Committee of Social Affairs (Comissao de Assuntos Sociais) of the Senate approved a bill this week that would legalize home growing of medical marijuana – a move that highlights the need for better and more affordable access to MMJ products in the South American country.
Only patients, patients associations or relatives would be authorized to grow and produce medical marijuana if the measure becomes law.
Currently, the only legal way of accessing medical marijuana in Brazil is to import product individually, with approval on a case-by-case basis .
Because importing products is so expensive, home growing would increase access to a large number of patients that “today can’t even dream of having access to legal imported cannabis,” Margarete Brito, general coordinator of APEPI, an association of medical cannabis patients, told Marijuana Business Daily.
“This means that businesses looking for commercial opportunities trying to export to the Brazilian market should keep in mind that price is a critical issue and the vast majority of patients can’t afford imported products with today’s prices,” Brito said.
But not everyone is convinced that allowing home growing will solve the problem of access.
Marcelo De Vita Grecco, CEO and co-founder of Centro de Excelencia Canabinoide, a platform that provides medical cannabis education in Brazil, told MJBizDaily that he appreciated the government trying to find a solution, but “patients should have access to standardized and safe products, and cultivating at home is too risky.
“(It’s) also highly inconvenient, like wanting to make your own olive oil. Imagine having to squeeze your own olives every time you want fresh oil,” he said.
Though this a significant legislative step, the bill now heads to the Committee of Constitution, Justice and Citizenship of the Senate (Comissao de Constituicao, Justica e Cidadania).
After that, it will be discussed in the Senate plenary and the Chamber of Deputies.
The commission noted that roughly 2 million Brazilians suffer from epilepsy. About 600,000 of the cases are refractory epilepsy, and medical marijuana is their only solution.
The bill would modify Law 11,343 of 2006 to allow home growing of MMJ in quantities justified by medical prescription, as well as the importation of seeds and plants.
Alfredo Pascual can be reached at [email protected]