On Thursday (03/08), Supreme Federal (STF) Court Minister Alexandre de Moraes voted in favor of the decriminalization of marijuana for personal use. His vote made the score on the subject reach the total of 4 to 0 in the STF to decriminalize the possession of marijuana. After the vote, the judgment was suspended by Minister Gilmar Mendes, who is expected to resume the trial in the coming weeks.

Morae’s Vote

Moraes’ vote resumed the judgment of the action that asks that Article 28 of Law 11,343 of 2006 (Drug Law) be declared unconstitutional. According to him, the user’s situation was worsened by the new law, which he understood as very generic. For Moraes, users must be presumed to be those who acquire, keep, have in storage or bring with them from 25 to 60 grams of marijuana or six female plants.

The debate at the Supreme Court is related to what objective criteria can be used to distinguish users from dealers. The 2006 law removed the prison sentence for cases of possession of drugs for personal consumption, even though it maintained use as a crime, leaving this a “grey” area in the law in what concerns how to specifically determine who was a consumer and who was a dealer. The solution for this came through law enforcement officers, who became the individuals that would determine those that were dealers based on the circumstances in which the arrest took place.


Photo Credit: Agência Brasil/Moretovizky.

To support this perspective, experts use statistics regarding incarceration in the country. In 2005, before the legislation, 14% of prisoners had been convicted of crimes related to drug trafficking. In 2019, this type of crime represented 27.4%, this index reaches 54.9% among women.

In 2005, there were 296,919 people incarcerated in the country. In 2019, there were 773,151 inmates, an increase of 160%. In 2022, the National Council of Justice (CNJ) estimates that the total number of people arrested is now around 832,295. However, there are only 596,442 spaces in the system. The country has the third largest prison population in the world, after China and the United States.

Our Analysis:

If this small change regarding the possession of drugs is approved, it could bring some improvements to the scenario of prison overcrowding in Brazil (see Law Enforcement). Thus, creating a small contribution to the fight against the gangs by reducing their appeal with prisoners, who live in terrible conditions and see in the criminal organizations a way of protection and to fight for better conditions. Furthermore, many analysts also understand that the resources and efforts spent on small apprehensions could be better used with investigations that focus on solving more serious crimes, such as homicides. In addition, focusing on large apprehensions could also be more effective, by crippling the economic power of drug factions, reducing, for example, their capacity to buy high-firepower weapons. The Federal Police adopt this approach: based on apprehensions and money laundering investigations, drug dealers and factions are “decapitalized” – in the last three years, R$ 2.8 billion in assets belonging to members of criminal groups were seized. However, this vision is not a consensus. On the other hand, another group of analysts believe that the decriminalization of the possession of marijuana for consumption could ease criminals’ lives and stimulate drug consumption.

Source: G1, Folha de SP.

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