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Brazil Supreme Court Votes To Decriminalize Marijuana For Personal Use

Brazil has become the latest nation to decriminalize possession of marijuana for personal use, NBC News reports.

In a ruling last week, the country’s Supreme Court voted to remove criminal penalties for possession of up to 40 grams of marijuana.

Eight of the 11 judges on the high court were in favor of a stipulation that keeping possession of small amounts of cannabis is an “illicit act” that does not warrant criminal prosecution.

The case that led to the ruling dates back to 2015, when a prisoner who received an additional sentence for concealing three grams of cannabis in his cell appealed to the Supreme Court.

Still to be determined by the justices is the maximum quantity of marijuana that would fall under the category of being for personal use.

Brazilian drug law, enacted in 2006, criminalized buying, possessing, transporting, or bringing drugs for personal use, though with a light penalty. differentiate personal use from drug trafficking.  Those carrying even small quantities continued to be arrested on trafficking charges, contributing to an increase in the nation’s prison population that is now the third largest in the world.

“The majority of pre-trial detainees and those convicted of drug trafficking in Brazil are first-time offenders, who carried small amounts of illicit substance with them, caught in routine police operations, unarmed and with no evidence of any relationship with organized crime,” said Ilona Szabó, president of Igarapé Institute, a think tank focusing on public security.

Legislation on marijuana criminalization is still being considered by Brazil’s Congress, meaning the Supreme Court may not have the last word on the matter.

“There is an appropriate path for this discussion to move forward and that is the legislative process,” said Senate president Rodrigo Pacheco. “It is something that, obviously, arouses broad discussion and it is a subject of preoccupation for Congress.”

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