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In Brazil Cocaine and Marijuana Won’t Land You in Jail Anymore

The use of marijuana, cocaine and Ecstasy is quite widespread in Brazil mainly in the larger cities where there is plenty of the product coming from the favelas (shantytowns).

Thanks to a new law, however, drug users, differently from drug traffickers, will not be sent to jail anymore. The new legislation specify that, although still illegal, Brazilians can "acquire, keep, store, transport or carry drugs for personal consumption," without the fear of being arrested for that.

The law establishes that individuals are allowed to carry "small quantities" of drug, but leaves to the discretion of the judge or policeman how much is small.

Anyone found by police with drugs for personal use will not be detained only having to sign a paper where he agrees to report for sentencing in a future date.

At the same time the law, which was signed by Brazilian President, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, increases from three to five years the minimum prison term for people caught selling drugs.

Drug users who are caught, on the other hand,  from now on will face "social educational" sentences, which include community service and courses dealing with the ills of drugs. Those who refuse to meet the new requirements might still have to pay a fine determined by a judge.

As Paulo Roberto Uchoa, Brazil’s Anti-drug Secretary puts it, "from now on drug users will no longer be persecuted by society."

While drug user will be sent to special criminal judges, traffickers will still face common criminal courts.

The maximum prison term remains 15 years for drug dealers. For the drug lords or those who finance the drug business, however, the penalty goes from a minimum of 8 to a maximum of 20 years in jail.

The new law of number 11,343 also creates the Sisnad (National System of Public Policies on Drugs) and goes into force on October 8.

The new legislation will bring extra load to the already overworked national Unified Health System (SUS). The service will have to meet the challenge of finding room to treat a wider number of drug users and drug addicts. The SUS is not prepared for such a task. 

According to Pedro Gabriel Delgado, the national coordinator for the Health Ministry’s Mental Health service, Brazil today has only 115 centers ready to assist people with drug and alcohol addiction and this is not enough to deal with the extra cases entering the system very soon.


  • Show Comments (5)

  • Drug rehab

    This is an imprudent measure, I don’t think allowing drug use will make things better. The entire world is struggling in a Drug War that’s getting more and more difficult to win, allowing drugs should be the last of our options.

  • Gui

    …but the cops still gonna beat your arse
    You might not go to jail for it, but police in Brazil still loves to give a little “tough love” to drug users.
    There were cases that the police killed people for smoking a joint.

    Drug Rehab: Do you really think that it’s possible to win the war on drugs?
    I’m sorry for saying this but if you do, You are very, very stupid!
    Oh and yes allowing drugs is the last of your choices, I really don’t recommend the use of cocaine,
    crack cocaine, heroin, tobbaco, alcohol, but if it’s their choice, let them F****** do it! The drug trade will never stop,
    and drug users are too stuborn, and some of them unfortunatelly are addicted (Not that addiction is an excuse to not stop)
    If the government doesn’t legalize drugs and sell them and tax them, they’ll only waist their money, and contribute to
    the killing of thousands of innocent people.

  • Jeff

    Why Prohibition?
    That is good that people are not going to jail for possession, but it seams odd that the government says that possessing is ok, but selling is not. kind of hypocritical if you ask me.

    watch this peace on cannabis prohibition

  • Wilson

    I agree with the comment above…Parabens mesmo!

  • Steve

    About time
    I normally do not have much respect for this government but it needs to be congratulated on this time three-fold!!!! Vicente Fox almost did the same thing but pressure from the US moralists and interests on this killing ‘war on drugs’ would not allow this. Not only is this the beginning of a blow to two of the most negative industries that exist, that is the prison industry and it’s ancillary services, it is also the first strike at the street drug industry itself. Further legalization will free up funds for education and social infrastructure improvements and in time will take some of the wind out of the street drug industry.

    The US should revisit the film Traffic and remember the expression that the war on drugs is a war against ourselves. PARABENS!

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