Drug Policies and the Politics of Drugs in the Americas

pp 187-208


Brazilian Drug Policy: Tension Between Repression and Alternatives

  • Thiago RodriguesAffiliated withInstitute for Strategic Studies (INEST), Fluminense Federal University (UFF) Email author 
  • , Beatriz Caiuby LabateAffiliated withCIESAS Occidente

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Policies toward illicit drugs have attained the utmost relevance in the debate pervading all levels of Brazilian society. Propositions for relaxation of traditional, coercive legislation share the landscape with others aimed at maintaining and deepening prohibitionism and its corollaries. This chapter describes the narratives produced in the history of Brazil’s prohibitionism, from the beginning of the twentieth century until the current times, and its unfolding juridical backdrop. Among other possible repercussions, Brazil’s domestic politics and its connections with international prohibitionism, inclusive of the War on Drugs, are presented, as are the political associations, progressive and conservative, that are currently at play there. The paradoxes and tensions that currently pervade Brazil’s policies toward the drug issue are underscored. These policies oscillate between blunt, military support for the War on Drugs, the moral persecution of users and addicts, and support for controversial treatment campaigns, to reformist propositions like those carried out in other Latin American countries with the support of social movements, such as the proposal to regulate the medicinal or recreational use of cannabis. The authors wrap up the chapter by addressing the different political traditions and moral views that inform these opposing views, and try to understand the wider implications of contemporary changes to Prohibition at a global scale.