Last week was busy in the Big Brother of Brazilian politics. Not that the last ones were easy going. But, in addition to the Covid CPI, last Tuesday, 18, parliamentarians analyzed the bill that proposes to authorize the cultivation of cannabis for medicinal and industrial purposes, the PL 399.
As expected, there was confusion and shouting during the session. Just the fact that we have a project that mentions cannabis in some way under discussion in the chamber, left some deputies inflamed.
What does the bill purposes?
The proposal has been discussed in a special commission since 2019. It aims to regulate the cultivation, processing, research, production and sales of Cannabis-based products for medicinal and industrial purposes in the country.
According to the rapporteur, one of the intentions of the law is to reduce the final cost to patients, but in practice, access would remain elitist. That’s because, if the text is approved, the already existing non-profit associations would have a deadline to adapt to the same demands made on pharmaceutical companies, with a pre-contracted quota and a predetermined purpose. Which is very difficult to happen, since there is a lot of money involved to follow the imposed rules and bureaucracies.
And what is not included in the project?
Lot’s of things. It is a very restricted project, which does not mention the adult use of cannabis, does not make any observations regarding the necessary historical repairs and also does not contemplate the self-cultivation of the plant. That is, patients would not have the option of planting, harvesting and extracting their own medicine.
In fact, the text only refers to extracts as a medicine, a term aimed at the pharmaceutical industry. Remember, preparations with medicinal plants are also herbal remedies.
At the same time that self-cultivation is not even mentioned as a possibility in the project, preventive resources have been being played back and forth between the Superior Court of Justice and Anvisa, Brazilian FDA. One pushes the question to the other, and in the end, the patient can still be arrested for growing his medicine.
Confusion and shouting in the Chamber of Deputies
Last Tuesday, 18, parliamentarians were expected to start voting on the bill. However, the government’s base of deputies was really inflamed, so there was a brief analysis of the text. Deputy Diego Garcia (Podemos-PR) asked for the discussion to be postponed. Then, he was pissed of that his request was denied. So, he set out towards the committee chairman, pulling deputy Paulo Teixeira’s computer (PT-SP) and pushing it.
In other words, he caused this turmoil and the vote was delayed. Classic tactic of disrupting everything.
It is curious how the simple discussion of the text among parliamentarians opens up the bizarre polarization that this subject brings. In the social networks of government parliamentarians, such as Carla Zambelli, the campaign against the bill is intense.
To demoralize the text, she says, for example, that marijuana is being full authorized in the country. All this movement to weaken a progressive debate shows how concerned they are with the possibility of it’s passing trough.
Why is the bill so polemical between cannabis activists?
That the governing base would be against is no news. But, the text of the project also divided opinions on the Brazilian cannabis scene.
Some people believe that if it is to be that way, it is better not to be. One of the arguments is that if the project passes the proposed text, we will hardly return to it in the near future to review what was done wrong.
These opinions sound like a warning for us not to fall into shallow promises like ‘First we take Dilma out, and then we see the rest.” For this part of the scene, supposed advances that only maintain privileges are worthless to improve the situation.
On the other hand, there are those who see the bill as an important first step, which would help thousands of patients, even if it is not the best way.
They believe that, in a near future, we could adjust the route and correct past mistakes. But the urgency now is to make it a little easier for patients who depend on the medication.
The debate is profound. Brazil is a complex country, which demands attention to its complexities. It is really confusing that a plant that still imprisons thousands of Brazilians, can also be a source of income for large pharmaceutical companies.
What are the next steps?
First, we need a new date for the project to be processed in the Chamber of Deputies. If approved, the text then passes to the Federal Senate. President Jair Bolsonaro has already warned that if it reaches him, he will veto.
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