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Opinion: Brazil Can Lead The World In The Production Of Medical Cannabis

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Opinion: Brazil Can Lead The World In The Production Of Medical Cannabis

By José Bacellar, president and CEO at VerdeMed.

Anvisa paves the way for the Brazilian Congress to create a regulatory framework for medical cannabis.

Brazil joins a group of 47 countries, including Canada, Chile, Colombia, Germany, Portugal, and the United States that have approved the prescription and use of medical cannabis. Anvisa’s RDC 357, which creates a category of drugs based on cannabis derivatives, comes into effect on March 9, 2019. The new regulations outline the rules that will govern the importation and production of these drugs by pharmaceutical companies in Brazil, as well as regulating their distribution and sale in pharmacies and drugstores.

Anvisa has also simplified the rules for patients to continue to directly import medical cannabis products prescribed by their doctor, which will act to prevent shortages until the new products reach the market. By the second half of 2020, drugs based on cannabis derivatives registered by Anvisa should be available to doctors and patients and sold in pharmacies just as any other controlled substance.

Brazil’s National Congress now has a historic opportunity to enact a new law to create a workable regulatory framework for medical cannabis. Since October 9, 2019, a Special Commission of the Chamber has been assessing PL 399/2015 proposed by Deputy Fábio Mitidieri (PSD-SE), which provides for the regulation of medical cannabis. The president of the Commission, Deputy Paulo Teixeira (PT-SP), and its rapporteur, Deputy Luciano Ducci (PSB-PR), have visited Colombia and Uruguay to observe the effects of such laws in neighboring countries.

The Commission received input from several government agencies – Anvisa, Embrapa, and the ministries of Agronomy, Justice, and Health, among others. Patient and professional associations, pharmaceutical companies, prescribing physicians, as well as various experts on medical cannabis, have actively participated in the discussion, including through dozens of public hearings. The legislative process has been democratic, inclusive, lively and transparent.

See Also: The Week In Cannabis: Coronavirus Concerns, Moves In UK And Mexico, Tilray Earnings, Canopy Growth Cuts

A note of caution is needed, however: intellectual dishonesty has marked the arguments against medical cannabis by its detractors in Brazil. The national discussion is not about whether there will be a surge in illicit drugs or changes in the criminal treatment of illegal cannabis production in the country. The confusing of the issue of the production of medical cannabis with the proliferation of illicit drugs only aims to distort public opinion and disrupt the debate as well as the legislative process.

The legal status of medical cannabis in Brazil and the domestic production of plant extracts are the necessary conditions for reducing the costs of manufacturing. Production inputs within Brazil will lower drug prices and expand the public’s access to medical cannabis derivatives, in addition to saving Brazil’s health care system (SUS) millions of reals every year.

Once regulations are in place, planting of cannabis on a commercial scale will have a strong domestic economic impact and allow Brazil to compete in the global market for cannabis-derived products. To create real economic benefits, the regulatory framework for medical cannabis should automatically include, by right, operations specializing in the production of plant extracts and other plant derivatives, including the many varieties of wellness, consumer and health products as is the case in the United States, for example.

Brazil can and should produce plant inputs and medical cannabis derivatives, both for export and for sale in the domestic market, of a wide variety of products. The global medical cannabis sector is expected to exceed US$100 billion annually in the next decade. Brazil, which has one of the most competitive agricultural industries in the world, has all the right conditions to become the leading producer of this essential new commodity of the 21st century.

See Also: Kemin Industries To Distribute Cannabinoid-Containing Drugs In Brazil

Lead image by Ilona Szentivanyi. Copyright: Benzinga.

José Bacellar is the founder and president of Verdemed, a medical cannabis company with operations in Latin America. He is an economist with a Master in Business Administration from FEA – USP and is the recipient of the Leadership Award from the Rotman School of Management at the University of Toronto. Previously he was a Strategy Consultant at McKinsey & Company and President of Bombril S.A. and Vetnil S.A.

The preceding article is from one of our external contributors. It does not represent the opinion of Benzinga and has not been edited.

 

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