Débora Zampier, Reporter at Agência Brasil

Brasilia – On 1st September 2010, the Brazilian Supreme Court decided at 6 votes against 4 that judges could now decide to apply alternatives to imprisonment against drug traffickers. In so doing, the Supreme Court decided that the National Congress had exceeded their legislative powers when it amended the 2006 Law on Drugs which prohibited the application of alternative penalties on drug traffickers.

The law does not differentiate between trafficants and drug users, and does not set minimum quantities for possession. As such, it is now up to the judge to decode which penalties to apply on a case by case basis.

The specific case leading to this decision was the habeas corpus requested by Alexandro Mariano da Silva, arrested in June 2007 with 13.4 grams of cocaine and crack in Porto Alegre. Read more (in Spanish).