An unprecedented gathering was held at the Civil Police Academy Sylvio Earth (ACADEPOL), in Rio de Janeiro. More than 100 people, including police officers, academics and representatives of the judiciary sector, met to discuss the current law regulating drug policy in Brazil during the seminar “Health and Drug Policy: The Civil Police at the Front of the Debate”.

The event was divided into two panels. The first panel was held in the morning and discussed the civil police’s role and practices under the current law, whereas the second panel in the afternoon focused on how a new, reformed drug law could influence the police’s day to day life and overall mission with relation to drugs.

A former judge and spokesman for LEAP Brazil (Law Enforcement Against Prohibition), Maria Lúcia Karam, employed evidence from the Bible to support her position in favor of legalizing drugs that are currently banned. In Karam’s opinion, society struggles to understand that alcohol and tobacco, although legal, are also toxic and cause health risks.

Orlando Zaccone, another member of LEAP, presented a criminological-based discussion on users and dealers. According to him, these concepts are not found in the Penal Code, since they are based on a social construction. “Article 281, which came into effect before 1976, made no distinction between those who use and those who sell illicit drugs. It was only under Law 6368/76 that the theory of differentiation began to be discussed, due to the stereotypes ascribed to both groups,” he explained.

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