Hemp in Brazil – A Model for the US?

September 16th, 2016 by Javed Pathan

hemp in Brazil

Brazil takes their illegal substances very seriously. The Brazilian criminal code states, “Selling and transportation of any illegal drugs, as well as possession or cultivation of larger amounts is characterized as drug trafficking, a criminal act punished with 5 to 15 years in prison and a significant fine.” Yikes. Cannabis – regardless of whether the origin was from marijuana or hemp – fell under this code until mid-2015.

What changed in 2015, you ask?

The story begins in Dallas, Texas with a little girl named Harper Howard. Harper was diagnosed with a rare non-hereditary form of epilepsy and started experiencing seizures at two-weeks of age. By 19 months, her seizure frequency had increased to more than 40 per day. The Howard family found traditional pharmaceuticals ineffective and were looking for any other means to help their child – and found those means in a cannabidiol (CBD) oil derived from industrial hemp. Improvements were noted within three days.

Thousands of miles from Dallas, a Brazilian mother, Katiele Fischer, was also conducting countless hours of research. Her daughter Anny was suffering from the same form of epilepsy. During her search for answers, Katiele came across the Howard’s story. Fearing that her only recourse was to resort to what was considered drug trafficking, Katiele had hemp oil shipped to her home illegally. The seizing episodes improved. In April 2014, Katiele went to ANVISA, Brazil’s FDA, and described her daughter’s seizures, and how within nine weeks of using CBD oil, Anny’s seizures were greatly reduced. She sued for the right to access cannabidiol from hemp to improve her daughter’s quality of life. Katiele won her case in under three days.

ANVISA ruled that it would be considered “inhumane” to withhold CBD oil from Anny. Today, Brazil has legalized the cannabis compound cannabidiol for therapeutic use. ANVISA officially removed CBD from the list of banned substances, meaning the compound can now be prescribed by physicians. In addition, they officially acknowledged that CBD does not have a psychotropic impact or result in psychological dependence. Brazil is not only allowing the importation of CBD hemp oil as medication, but also subsidizing it under Brazil’s healthcare insurance program.

In short, a family in Brazil had a problem – found a solution – and went to their government to allow it to help other families as well. And the government listened, performed their due diligence, and made a change. This is a remarkable thing and could be a great lesson for the United States. Rather than tying up solutions in red tape at multiple levels of government – let’s listen, pay attention to research, and make a change.

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