A Brazilian Senator Wonders If Regulating Pot Is the Answer

Marijuana in BrazilTwo frightening threats are contaminating the education of our children and young people: domestic drug consumption and drug dealing around the schools. We have ignored these threats for years, however.

Serving as a wake-up call for those of us in the Congress was a petition, signed by 22,000 people, suggesting that marijuana be regulated for recreational and medicinal use in Brazil.

As the rapporteur chosen to study this suggestion, I feel I have the responsibility to analyze one of the most relevant – and at the same time most polemic – issues in the world today.

We should all adopt “Don’t fool around with drugs” as our motto. Therefore, we cannot ignore the problem. We should exercise extreme caution, however, in analyzing it, taking into account the various doubts that it raises.

Before presenting the report on the petition – if we should proceed with it or not, if we should introduce a bill or not – as the rapporteur, I shall seek to respond to the following questions: will regulating marijuana for recreational use increase its consumption? Is marijuana a gateway leading to more noxious drugs?

Will regulating it diminish the violence around the schools? Does regulation clash with Brazilian culture and beliefs? Does controlled use by doctors have therapeutic ends?

To answer these questions as a basic condition for preparing my report, I shall study the matter, read the existing bibliography, listen to specialists who defend or repudiate the use and tolerated regulation of the drug, and observe what has happened in other countries already trying regulation and decriminalization.

I hope that this effort can help us in the difficult task of determining whether regulation is desirable or not, how we should handle the petition received, and what steps should be taken so that we can begin to attend to the matter of the drug throughout the country.

Let us do this before we have to acknowledge that we have already lost the battle, as a Mexican senator told me two years ago in relation to his own country.

Cristovam Buarque (CBUARQUE@senado.gov.br) is a Brazilian senator (PDT-DF).

Translated by Linda Jerome (LinJerome@cs.com).

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