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Brazil's Supreme Court decriminalizes marijuana possession

June 26, 2024

The move does not make possession of marijuana legal. The Supreme Court judges will now decide what quantity of marijuana can be deemed as being for personal use.

Supreme Court justices preside in Brasilia
In Brasilia, Court President Luis Roberto Barroso said the judges ruled that "possession of cannabis" did not constitute something "of a criminal nature"Image: Eraldo Peres/AP Photo/picture alliance

Brazil's Supreme Court voted to decriminalize the possession of marijuana for personal use on Tuesday.

However, the judges must still define the maximum quantity of marijuana that can be considered as being for personal use, as well as when the ruling will come into effect.

This decision could happen as early as Wednesday.

What does the ruling mean?

The Supreme Court's ruling does not legalize marijuana in Brazil but rather lessens the penalty for possession.

Court president Luis Roberto Barroso said the judges ruled that "possession of cannabis for personal use is an illicit act" but not "of a criminal nature."

Brazil's existing laws against drug possession do not specify what quantity of marijuana constitutes personal use — which carries lighter punishments like community service — and what quantity constitutes drug trafficking, which carries a heavy prison term.

Supreme Court judge Alexandre de Moraes said these existing laws disproportionately harm "young people, especially Black people, who are treated as drug traffickers for possessing small amounts."

zc/jsi (AP, AFP)