Brazil ex-president slams drugs bill

2012-12-26 21:01

Brasilia - A bill calling for tougher sentences for drug possession and mandatory internment of addicts in Brazil has drawn fire from ex-president Fernando Henrique Cardoso, a strong advocate of drug decriminalisation.

"Treating drug use as a police case is useless and disastrous," he said in an interview with the daily O Globo published on Wednesday.

"Mandatory internment [of addicts] has been internationally condemned as inefficient, stigmatising and a violation of human rights," said Cardoso who was in office from 1995 to 2002.

The controversial bill, which is to be debated in Congress in February, has a good chance of being adopted in plenary session after already winning unanimous approval from a special panel.

"Brazilian society, which is faced with the scourge of drugs, wants" tougher legislation against use and possession of drugs", according to lawmaker Osmar Terra, who said there were enough votes for passage of the bill.


Considered the world's largest market for crack and the second for overall cocaine use, Brazil since 2006 has had an ambiguous law on the books that lets authorities decide who is a user and who is a drug trafficker.

"Drugs, particularly crack, are the major health and public security issues in Brazil," Terra said on his webpage.

Cardoso, who chairs the Global Commission on Drug Policy, also insisted Brazil was lagging behind other regional countries with respect to the debate on a new drug strategy.

In October, he urged that what it termed the failed war on drugs be replaced by policies focusing on regulation and prevention.

Insisting that regulation was not the same as legalisation, he then urged "all kinds of restrictions and limitations on the production, trade, advertising and consumption of a given substance in order to de-glamorise, discourage and control its use".

"Drug abusers may harm themselves and their families, but locking them up is not going to help them," he argued.

  • Cracker - 2012-12-26 21:09

    Leave people alone to live their lives as they wish. In return you will be entitled to the same privilege.

      eagarcia3 - 2012-12-26 22:16

      Normally, I would agree with that sentence. But in the case of drugs, it's unavoidable to think in the victims. Not the addicts, of course, but the innocents affected by the business. Either as a misfired bullet, someone tempted by the lure of easy money in the middle of poverty, or someone that dares to stand against the drug lords, the social effects of drug trafficking are way too big to take a laissez faire attitude. It's something tough to understand if you don't live in a country like mine. Anything that weakens the drug lords is more than welcome, either through legalization or better crackdown measures.

      mart.botha - 2012-12-27 06:01

      Cracker...stop talking crap. Most serious drug addicts will steal the false teeth out their own mother's mouth if they could convert them to cash or drugs. Addicts have a detrimental effect on the whole society and if it takes 'tough love' in the form of incarceration to protect the innocent, then that is what must be done. Drug addicts are weak beings who prey on their fellow man with little or no thought of the consequences. They are trouble and must be treated as hostile.

  • john.buang.39 - 2012-12-26 22:10

    Problem is that drug addiction usually destroys the lives of the addicts as well as those around them.

  • theMichaelHawthorne - 2012-12-26 22:18

    Cannabis has never destroyed a single life but hafe saved many cancer patients! So why is it a criminal offence to have?

      rlong1952 - 2012-12-26 23:22

      The ignorance of that statement boggles my mind. Ask any drug counsellor how their 'patients' got started on harder drugs.

      karien.vanderwesthuizen1 - 2012-12-27 02:50

      Ever heard of THC-induced psychosis? I saw a friend of mine incrementally go nuts from smoking daily. He is dead now, shot himself.

      juannepierre - 2012-12-27 07:50

      @rlong I think the answer you are actually going to get is alcohol... So fail!

      juannepierre - 2012-12-27 07:52

      @karien I wouldn't be surprised if he was dipping his jut in benzine or mixing it with buttons... Just because he said it's a joint doesn't mean it's actually marijuana

      jason.mcdonahugh - 2012-12-27 12:46

      @theMichaelHawthorne this article is not debating cannabis, it clearly mentions crack and cocaine

  • eagarcia3 - 2012-12-26 22:19

    RSA is really lucky to be located in a really badly located neighbourhood for drugs. If this country was located in Latin America, it would be a HUGE mess in drug related topics.

      colin.dovey - 2012-12-27 08:22

      Trouble is, that scenario is changing, and South Africa is being seen as a good "soft target" entry market - just ask any wide awake school child - another aspect is the use by ADULTS of their own ADHD Child's Ritalin, Zoloft or Concerto - it has the same effect as one of the harder line drugs!

      eagarcia3 - 2012-12-27 08:40

      Still, the main markets (Europe and the States) are way too far. That's what I mean: if this country was located in Latin America, or even North Africa, it would be a big producer and exporter. It's got many of the conditions seen in the big ones: lots of poverty and inequality, with not many chances to go up, feeble and easily corruptible law enforcement agencies, decent amounts of arable land. It still lacks the easy money culture.

  • eugene.kasilembo - 2012-12-26 23:49


  • karien.vanderwesthuizen1 - 2012-12-27 02:46

    Go Brazil! Criminalising use and posession of such highly addictive and detrimental substances as crack will be beneficial to society and to those suffering the horrors of addiction

      juannepierre - 2012-12-27 07:47

      Yawn. Your Barney ideology is like totally naive and a little retarded.

  • theMichaelHawthorne - 2012-12-27 03:38

    Love how so many people have claims of cannabis ruining lives... stop uttering nonsense. You would rather see a child die of cancer than see her live because of the healing properties of cannabis. Oh and why do we have cannabiniod receptors if we shouldn't consume cannabis? Their only function is to react to cannabis.... Makes all your comments void.

      Wikus Erasmus - 2012-12-27 05:45

      The lady doth protest too much...

  • - 2012-12-27 06:14

    Always the same old arguments and nothing is done, all remain the same and thus nothing will change but the big talk. Karien vanderwesthuizen: I too have seen the psychosis at work yet am called a liar by liars.

  • J.Stephen.Whiteley - 2012-12-27 07:06

    I knew a family whose son was an addict. They could manage his constant returns to the house; they could not manage his theft of their possessions to buy drugs which are expensive because they are illegal

  • juannepierre - 2012-12-27 07:42

    Gambling ruins lives too but casinos keep popping up. If you have never done drugs, don't comment because you don't know a thing... Oh but my friend shot himself, and my auntys son stole the tv... Blah blah blah... There's always a story from a friend or some auntys son. Where are the first account stories. And decriminalization is the one of the smartest ideas yet. Regulation not incarceration.

  • eagarcia3 - 2012-12-27 08:09

    I find it amazing you think pot has never destroyed a single life. Tell that to the Mexicans having to deal with violence in the North, fueled by users from the States. Being adult means taking your choices, and accepting the consequences. My current gripe with drugs is: the consequences go beyond the users. They extend to full societies, in the shape of criminals. And users seem to be happy or indifferent.

  • malcolm.kyle.9 - 2012-12-27 14:18

    An appeal to all Prohibitionists: Most of us know that individuals who use illegal drugs are going to get high—no matter what, so why do you not prefer they acquire them in stores that check IDs and pay taxes? Even if we could afford to put anti-narcotic police on every single street corner, we also know that at least half of them would soon become dealers themselves. Gifting the market in narcotics to ruthless criminals, foreign terrorists and corrupt law enforcement officials is seriously compromising our future. We simply cannot continue with a policy that has proven itself to be a poison in the veins of practically every free nation on this planet. Even if you cannot bear the thought of people using drugs, there is absolutely nothing you, or any government, can do to stop them. We have spent 40 years and trillions of dollars on this dangerous farce; Prohibition will not suddenly and miraculously start showing different results. You may find lies easier to tell, but they do nothing to prevent the existence of truth, they do nothing to help you sleep at night, and they do absolutely nothing to help those who depend on you for their safety and health. Kindly allow us to forgo the next level of your sycophantic prohibition-engendered mayhem! Prohibition prevents regulation: legalize, regulate, and tax!

      eagarcia3 - 2012-12-27 19:58

      That is an interesting thought, but it won't happen in the short term. True, regulation might be more effective, and legalization might weaken those cursed drug lords. But it won't happen. The States, on its unique mix of moral Puritanism and hypocrisy, will never allow it to happen. Not in the short term, at least. Even if their states legalize consumption, legalizing production seems to be something way too far. I'll tell you something: a good amount of people in my country see the war against drugs as a consumers war, fighting against their desires, while the producers out almost all of the dead.

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