A Brazilian Rancher Faces 8 Years In Prison For Transporting Medicinal Cannabis To The Elderly

Petition Is Launched to Free Brazilian Man Imprisoned For Cannabis

One legal case in Brazil has led to a lengthy and arguably unfair arrest and a Change.org petition that is making rounds on the internet.

Brazilian rancher Marcio Roberto Pereira, 39, began serving an eight-year prison sentence in October 2019, all because he was trying to help someone. Here’s what happened.

Pereira and his wife, Fernanda Peixoto, were driving from São Paolo to Acre, a northwest state in the Amazon when they were stopped by the police. Upon searching their vehicle, police found seven small canisters of olive oil. The canisters, weighing 790 grams, also contained 5 percent cannabis. This was enough to earn Pereira and Peixoto a drug trafficking charge, and they were subsequently arrested.

It turns out that Pereira was transporting the oil to an elderly individual who planned on using cannabis medicinally to treat pain after having their prostate removed. Peixoto had previously had experience with medicinal cannabis, as she legally cultivated it in 2003 to treat her son’s seizures – he had supraventricular tachycardia, a condition associated with having an abnormally fast heartbeat.

Pereira was ultimately sentenced to eight years in prison, while his wife was released.

“Prison continues to be necessary to guarantee public order (CPP, art. 312), above all to prevent the sentenced woman from continuing to delinquent,” said Judge Glodner Luiz Pauletto, who sentenced Pereira.

The case has caught marginal media attention, but many have called for Pereira to be released from prison.

In fact, one man created a petition to release Pereira from prison.

Mateus Potumati, who created the petition, writes:

“Marcio remains in prison. During that time, he contracted malaria three times. Their work saved the lives of several patients with serious illnesses like West syndrome, epilepsy, and Alzheimer’s. The absurd sentence treats Marcio like a drug dealer and prevents him from doing his job, supported by local society and the medical profession. We need to contain this terrible injustice and allow the couple’s incredible work to continue. Help do justice and save lives!”

The petition has attracted more than 4,000 signatures and has a target of 5,000. Those who have signed agreements with Potumati’s plea.

“No one should remain in prison for helping other people, or promoting health and well-being,” one commenter writes. “Cannabis has already left the (World Health Organization) drug list.”

Another recognizes Pereira’s work as helpful:

“Thanks to people like Márcio Roberto Pereira, families with autistic, epileptic, Parkinson disease, and Alzheimer’s can have more hope through the use of cannabis oil. I have a sister with Alzheimer’s and I managed in court, through the association to embrace hope, the right to buy, and hope for improvement.”

Cannabis legalization in Brazilian is moving slowly. Cannabis medications can only be prescribed to terminally ill patients or those who have no other options. In March 2020, the first national license to cultivate homemade medicinal marijuana was issued on behalf of the State of Pernambuco.

As parts of the world begin to accept the health benefits that cannabis offers, we hope to see Pereira – and all others like him – see justice.