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Brazil’s Supreme Court decriminalizes marijuana possession for personal use

BRASILIA: Brazil’s Supreme Court ruled on Wednesday that buying and possessing up to 40 grams of marijuana for personal use is no longer a crime, although police can still seize the drug. Marijuana is still illegal in Brazil and its use in public places is still prohibited. But a person caught using marijuana and possessing up to 40 grams – about enough for 80 joints – will not face a criminal record and will only appear before a judge to hear a warning about the drug’s dangers, so it judged. However, police will be able to arrest a person caught selling marijuana, even if it is less than 40 grams, when there are clear signs of intent to sell it, the judges decided.

The ruling makes the country of 203 million people the largest to take such a step and is the latest sign of growing global acceptance of the drug. More than two dozen countries have now decriminalized or legalized recreational marijuana, most of them in Europe and the Americas.

The SC said its guidelines for private marijuana use will remain in effect until Congress passes legislation. Conservatives in Brazil’s Congress are pushing for a bill that would amend the constitution to criminalize any possession of marijuana. If lawmakers pass such legislation, it would supersede the ruling but could still be challenged on constitutional grounds.