Judgment by the STF could lead Brazil to decriminalize drug possession
Supreme Court must analyze theme this month

Judgment by the STF could lead Brazil to decriminalize possession of drugs Jefferson Botega / RBS Agency
Photo: Jefferson Botega / RBS Agency

Brazil can match the other countries in South America that decriminalized the possession of illegal drugs today and become tolerant of the consumption and cultivation for personal use. The extent depends on the Supreme Court (STF), which must judge this month lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the ban.

The São Paulo State Public Defender appealed to the Court, claiming that drug possession, typified in Article 28 of Law 11.343, 2006, can not be a criminal, not harm third parties. The rapporteur is Minister Gilmar Mendes, who submitted the vote and should put the issue at vote later this month.

For public security experts, human rights and drugs, the STF has a chance to put Brazil on the same level as other countries in the region and take an important step to facilitate the access of drug users to health care, in addition to end User stigmatization as criminal.

- The drug law kept possession of drugs as a crime, but has not given a prison sentence, which was a breakthrough. The understanding we have is that it (the ban) is unconstitutional, on the principles of liberty, privacy, in the sense that a person can not be constrained by the state, under penalty of sanction, for an action that should do evil, it will only hurt her - explained Luciana Boiteuxex, Group Coordinator for Research on Drug Policy, Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ).

What to know to position on the legalization of marijuana
ZH opinion: against drugs by legalizing marijuana

The director for Latin America of the Open Society Foundation, a non-governmental organization that defends human rights and democratic governance, Pedro Abramovay, says that in any country where drug possession was relaxed there was increased consumption.

- Brazil is late and, if decriminalize, will match the dozens of countries that have gone through this process. All countries that have decriminalized the consumption, who spoke to have possession for personal consumption is not more crime, they saw the growing consumption. So this fear that people have, there increase is unfounded with the data of reality - out.

He believes that the measure may cause dependent have easy access to health.

- Today, a doctor who treats a person who uses crack dealing with a criminal, has the police in the middle, which makes it more and more difficult approach - highlighted Abramovay, a former national secretary of Justice.

Difficulty to differentiate drug dealer and user

With the Supreme Court decision, you can also leave the hands of the police and the judiciary itself to differentiate between who is and who is dealer user, who has raised criticism of discrimination and violation of human rights in prisons. The current law of 2006 does not define, for example, port-specific amounts in each case, as in other countries, and let the judge decide, based on the blatant and "social and personal circumstances."

- In other words: who is poor is trafficker, who is rich is user - critical Abramovay.

According to the director, the Supreme Court shall recommend, in the sentence, which criteria are set for the characterization of users, technical bodies such as the National Health Surveillance Agency (Anvisa).

- The Supreme can say that, to ensure that the constitution is respected, without discrimination, are needed criteria. This is not a minor issue, the lack of uncertainty leads to incarceration. We're talking about one in three prisoners in the country - said Abramovay.

At an event in Rio de Janeiro last week, the Justice Minister José Eduardo Cardozo, recognized that "legal loopholes" to differentiate traffickers and user feeds the cycle of violence and overcrowds the prison system. He said the trafficking is the second type of crime that puts more people behind bars, after property crimes. For women, trafficking appears first in the list.

- We know we have a culture that does not seem appropriate to want to push the envelope of all that is dealer to criminalize power. We have many people who are user who should receive health care, entering the prisons in contact with criminal organizations. Ie user enters and exits trafficking member - lamented the minister.

A professor at UFRJ Luciana Boiteux focus on regulation - from production to sale of the substances - as a solution to address the violence and killings in the country related to combating trafficking.

MEPs approve marijuana decriminalization in Chile

Other side

Contrary to the decriminalization of drug possession for personal consumption, Congressman Osmar Terra (PMDB-RS) believes that the measure is the first step towards the legalization of these substances, which, according to him, would be bad for society.

- If decriminalize use, eventually, he legalized the drug. If it is not a crime to use, people will walk with drug at ease. They will take to school, to the square, distribute to friends. And how can it not be a crime to buy, but be a crime to sell? How do you solve this paradox? This will end up legalizing the sale. Traffickers will (pretend to) be all users. This will increase the drug flow. Release the drug only makes the problem worse, not better - said Terra, who chairs the Subcommittee on Public Policies on Drugs of the House of Representatives.

The deputy disagrees with the thesis that drug use is a freedom of the individual, which only affects him.

- The addiction is an incurable disease. The person will take it for the rest of life. This can reduce your work capacity and raising a family. Often, the user overloads the family because most are unemployed and unable to care for her. It overloads your parents, siblings, they have to take care of it, you have to get the money to maintain, have to work harder. Freedom of drug use it is bondage of family - she says.

Terra also relates the use of drugs, legal and illegal, to increased violence.

- Our epidemic of violence is the daughter of the drug epidemic. Brazil is the country where it kills more people in the world. Kills more killings in traffic accidents. Release, will increase all. Which is a major cause of domestic violence? It is alcohol because it is a legal drug. It's not a crime to buy alcohol. Domestic violence will greatly increase due to the movement of illicit drugs - says.

The opinion is shared by the deputy manager Luiz Fernando Oderich, who founded the NGO Brazil No Grids, which calls for more security and defends tougher laws to combat violence. Max, son of Oderich, was killed 13 years ago during an attempted robbery.

According to the businessman, the user should not be treated as a criminal, though often engage in other crimes because of drug use.

- There is a relationship between a non-social behavior and drug use. Some of less manner, and others, a greater way. It's something that does not do well - analyzed Oderich.

The psychiatrist Osvaldo Saide, the Brazilian Alcoholism and Drug Association (Abrad), says that the ideal is not to treat the user as a criminal, but refer you for treatment. However, he said, it is necessary that the legislation makes it clear what to do in cases of persons who commit crimes under the influence of drugs and in cases of sale of drugs by users to support their own addiction.

To Saide, it would be necessary to create alternatives to the user, how to receive the penalty for another crime committed or to undergo compulsory treatment.

- The Justice can press the person to treatment in a situation where she has no idea of ​​the severity of your problem, because drug addiction leads to a lack of sense of the seriousness of the problem itself. Sometimes a person profession is immersed, for example, the crack - he said.

President of the Brazilian Association of Alcohol Studies and Other Drugs (ABEAD), the psychiatrist Ana Cecilia Marques believes that the decriminalization of use must be discussed by society. However, disagrees that this is done by a judgment of the Supreme Court.

- There needs to be a law that clearly defines the specific cases, such as if the person is a casual user, you have an addiction. I am in favor of decriminalizing, but I think need to have all this rigor, which is not something that exists in our drug laws. They are unclear, leaving several gaps. And in the country, lack policies for drugs. I favor, but I fear for this process of decriminalization - explained.

Read the latest news

* Agency Brazil