STF postpones ruling on the decriminalisation of drugs consumption again

This ruling, originally started in 2015, had been scheduled for 6 November. A date has not been set for it to be resumed

Supreme Federal Court plenary session on 26 September 2019. Photo Nelson Jr/SCO/STF Supreme Federal Court plenary session on 26 September 2019. Photo Nelson Jr/SCO/STF

The President of the STF (Supreme Federal Court) Minister Dias Toffoli has decided to postpone the ruling on the decriminalisation of possession of drugs for personal use, once again. The vote was scheduled for 6 November, but was removed from the agenda because of the discussion regarding prison following conviction at appeals court. 

This process started in 2015 and no new date has been set for the ruling. At that time three of the eleven ministers came out in favour of an Extraordinary Appeal by the São Paulo Public Defender’s office, although a consensus was not reached on which substances should be decriminalised. The discussion was put on hold following Minister Teori Zavascki’s request for time to analyse the issue. Subsequent to Teori’s death in 2017, the case was passed to Minister Alexandre de Moraes, who released it to be voted on in November 2018.

Conectas, the ITTC (Institute for Land, Labour and Citizenship), the Prison Ministry and Instituto Sou da Paz, along with other organisations linked to human rights, are “amicus curiae” – institutions permitted to contribute with technical information on court decisions – on this case and have already presented their respective positions regarding the case. The institutions hold that the 2006 Act, 11.343  is a further normative example that reflects the ideology of the so-called ‘war on drugs’.

This year, Minister Dias Toffoli, even received requests from members of congress and the president of the Republic to postpone the ruling. This is the second time the vote has been postponed this year. 

According to Henrique Apolinário, legal adviser on the Conectas Institutional Violence programme, Brazil has fallen behind in the debate on decriminalisation with this ruling becoming more and more important in the face of the serious consequences of implementing the current drugs policy. 

“Brazil is one of the last Latin American countries to discuss decriminalisation for the possession of drugs and thousands of people are suffering extremely grave consequences with its constant deferral. Current drugs policy is leading to excessive military-style policing in underprivileged areas on the outskirts of cities, distancing drug users from public services and is hampering the chance for transparent debate on the issue.” He stressed. 

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