Brazil’s Superior Court has effectively legalized medical cannabis for home-grown use. The decision is likely to set a precedent for similar cases. The Brazilian government has not yet responded to the court’s decision.

What Happened

The five-judge panel unanimously agreed that Brazil’s patients should have access to home-grown medical cannabis. The three patients on trial can grow cannabis and extract its oil for medicinal uses. Brazil’s current medical cannabis laws do not permit home-growing. All medical cannabis products are imported from abroad.

The decision is similar to Canada’s experience with medical cannabis, where the courts have often stood for patients’ rights while governments undermined them. 

Judge Rogério Schietti defended the decision, saying the Brazilian government has failed to take a reasonable position on medical cannabis. Another Judge called Brazil’s medical cannabis laws “deliberately backward action toward obscurantism.”

Brazil Legalizes Home-Grown Medical Cannabis Despite Anti-Cannabis Government

The president of Brazil is Jair Bolsonaro, facing reelection in October. In June 2021, he openly stated he was against home-growing cannabis for medical purposes. He is also against legalization.

The Brazilian government has not yet responded to the court’s decision. Protests for medical cannabis occurred on June 11, bringing out thousands of Brazilians.

So far, Uruguay is the only South American country to have legalized cannabis for medical and recreational use.

Argentina approved a law to regulate medical cannabis, including setting up a new bureaucracy to control how patients source their seeds and derivative products.

Why the Courts and Not Democratic Government?

Brazil Medical Cannabis

Brazil’s essential legalization of home-grown medical cannabis is, like Canada’s, a decision made by the court. The government must abide by it less they perceive their authority to overstep the rule of law, which many governments do.

And this isn’t a problem with 2nd-world countries like Brazil. In so-called 1st world countries like Canada, when the courts ruled that cannabis patients had a right to oils and edibles, Conservative MP Rona Ambrose called the decision “outrageous.” When medical cannabis patients won their right to home-grow in Allard, the Harper government planned to appeal.

People recognize courts as unbiased arbitrators of complex legal issues until they make a decision the government doesn’t like.

And anyone following politics without absurd fantasies about “democracy” knows that lobbyists pull more weight than a mass of faceless voters. Voters are often manipulated into accepting options A or B while blissfully unaware (and not informed by the corporate press) that there are options C, D, and E. 

How Courts Used to Work

Before people had the power to elect a new King every four years, we used to rely on free-market courts.

In the past, the West incorporated many overlapping, competing legal jurisdictions. Tax-supported courts of monopolistic jurisdiction are an entirely new phenomenon. 

There used to be hundreds of courts: shire, manorial, urban, ecclesiastical, mercantile, etc. These courts had fluid jurisdictional boundaries and collected their fees from the litigants, so they competed with each other for business. 

Even the royal courts consisted of competing courts: the king’s bench, common pleas, exchequer, and chancery. Only with the Judicature Act of 1873 and the Appellate Jurisdiction Act of 1876 did the British government monopolize the courts into a single hierarchical structure, with American and Canadian courts following suit soon after.

That move was a mistake and is one of the more significant reasons this system is as dysfunctional as it is.

This is especially true with the Canadian court cases on medical cannabis like Allard or R v. Smith. 

Patients must fight for their right to reasonable access through the monopolistic court hierarchy that the government forces taxpayers to finance.

In other words: patients represented by Allard were also funding the government’s appeals.

And it’s not just with cannabis; in every conflict with government authority, citizens have to finance both sides of the issue.

Will Brazil Legalize Home-Grown Medical Cannabis Despite Anti-Cannabis Government?

What will happen in Brazil? Will Brazil legalize home-grown medical cannabis despite an anti-cannabis government? Or will President Bolsonaro appeal the decision or choose to ignore it entirely? (He did jail his political opponents at one point, so it’s not out of the question he’ll overstep his authority with the courts).

Only time will tell, but the tide is moving toward legalization. And not just in Brazil but worldwide. Unfortunately, the arbitrary authority of government over private, personal affairs is also growing.