By Ana Fábia Martins | June 14, 2022

No way. It is one thing to create legislative instruments, regulate, segment and professionalize the billionaire Cannabis sativa market, a plant known to mankind for millennia, used for centuries, allowing its planting, cultivation and processing in its industrial hemp variety to serve various segments such as agro-industry; chemicals, paper, textiles, medicines, civil construction, furniture, well-being, food, animal feed, plastics and polymers, and so many other possibilities.

The other is to defend the pure and simple liberalization of the use of marijuana, the narcotic variety of Cannabis sativa, illicitly cultivated to obtain a high concentration of Δ-9THC (delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol), authorizing those who intend to use the plant for the purpose recreational [adult use].

The biggest problem with all this discussion is that it does not evolve here in the country, as a great friend of mine, university professor and researcher, said.

It doesn’t matter that we have news of the cultivation of this plant for more than 12 thousand years, being one of the oldest species domesticated by humanity, providing shelter for the body, material for construction, food, and medicine; it doesn’t matter that the Real Feitoria do Linho Cânhamo was already based in the south of Brazil in the 17th century, where all the raw material for sails and ship’s twine was made; it doesn’t matter that the world has come to recognize the incredible potential of Cannabis to promote a true green revolution that we so desperately need.

In Terra Brasilis, it has still been an immense challenge to advance institutionally to a level of in-depth and serious debate. We are going against the grain of history by seeing the Cannabis plant only as a raw material for the manufacture of narcotic substances, and giving it treatment exclusively under the aspect of Criminal Law.

The frequent association of hemp with marijuana has made, and still makes, that the production of this plant is often linked to anti-drug legislation, receiving the same legal treatment as a narcotic substance, creating a legal barrier that prevents the cultivation of industrial hemp in the country, very although there is already a strong business movement around the numerous possibilities related to this variety of the Cannabis plant.

An important milestone for the differentiation of treatment between marijuana and hemp, the two completely different varieties and cultivars of the plant, and which allowed the North American market to already experience enormous growth, was the establishment of different legal definitions by the legislation of that country, through the enactment, in 2014, of the Agricultural Act of 2014, followed by the Agricultural Improvement Act of 2018 (Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018). These changes bring, for the first time, more clarity to the distinction between hemp and marijuana, in terms of rural policy and federal regulatory oversight in the US.

Under US federal law, the hemp variety/cultivate must have a maximum delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (Δ-9THC) content – ​​the main narcotic chemical in marijuana – less than 0.3%. Typically, a THC content of 1% is considered the threshold for cannabis to have a psychoactive effect, or potential for intoxication.

Cannabis plant varieties with less than 0.3% Δ-9THC content can be grown in the United States, but are subject to obtaining a license approved by the Ministry of Agriculture (USDA), as hemp. On the other hand, varieties or cultivars with levels higher than 0.3% of Δ-9 THC cannot be cultivated, due to their high potential for use as a narcotic.

An informative document with the technical data sheet of the two varieties/cultivars, hemp and marijuana was prepared by the US Congressional Research Department, demonstrating quite significant differences, in many relevant aspects, with regard to: (1) the legal definitions and regulatory oversight, (2) chemical and genetic composition; and (3) forms of production and use.

In other words, in relation to the legislative treatment that should be given to industrial hemp, the US federal law has already established good regulatory frameworks, which have been adopted by practically all states of the federation.

Controversy still exists over the authorization for recreational consumption, allowed in some states but still prohibited in most of them. However, the express differentiation between hemp and marijuana, based on conditions such as chemical and genetic composition, and also according to the ways of planting and production, seems to us to be a good start.

So, I say it again: regulating the production of the Cannabis plant does not mean “legalizing” marijuana!

* Ana Fábia R. de O. F. Martins is a lawyer, specializing in International Business and Law and Fashion. Acts as Legal Director of the Brazilian Association of Cannabis Industries (ABICANN)