PEC 45/2023 is a setback that disrupts the public debate on drugs, writes president of H360

PEC 45/2023 is a setback that disrupts the public debate on drugs, writes president of H360

Approved by the Senate’s Constitution and Justice Committee on March 13, the proposed amendment to the Constitution that establishes the possession of drugs in any quantity as a crime is a legal setback, a political abomination and an enormous social risk. Confusing public opinion with prejudices and criminal punitiveness, the measure reinforces the worst instincts of the war on drugs in Brazil, further distancing drug users from appropriate treatments and throwing them into the cells of our overcrowded prisons. The targets remain the same: the Black, poor and marginalized population of large cities.

Today, the Constitution already treats “illicit trafficking in narcotics and similar drugs” as a non-bailable crime not subject to amnesty. The PEC (proposed amendment to the Constitution) under discussion expands this scope considerably, starting to consider possession as a criminal act, regardless of the quantity of the substance carried. The attempt to soften the text of the proposal, through an amendment that suggests reserving alternative sentences to prison for the user, is vague and insufficient, since to distinguish them from the drug trafficker it is recommended to observe the “factual circumstances of the specific case”. Now, the lack of objective criteria is at the heart of the problem with the current Drug Law, which, without determining the quantity that separates the user from the dealer, leaves the application of the law to police subjectivity, susceptible to historical social and racial prejudices.

In this way, congressmen want to confirm in the Federal Constitution an error that already exists in the Drug Law. Redundancy and setbacks are evident, but it is also a clear demonstration of opportunism. It is no coincidence that this PEC comes at a time when the Supreme Federal Court is approaching a detailed decision to decriminalize the possession of drugs for personal use – including the definition of quantity to identify users –, in a clear maturation of the debate.

In reaction to the Court, congressmen rush to disrupt the public debate, spreading outdated ideas under the façade of “toughness against crime”. For them, the accumulated evidence that the war on drugs only deepens the evils it promises to combat is of no importance. They also ignore the impact that PEC can have on public health, keeping people with chemical dependency away from seeking humanized treatment. They are content with short-term political dividends, at the expense of society as a whole. We cannot remain silent.

Patrícia Villela Marino, president of the Humanitas360 Institute