This week, the largest country in South America announced it was changing its attitude on medical cannabis products and industrial hemp.
On Wednesday, Brazil’s National Agency for Health Surveillance, or Anvisa, adopted a policy legalizing the import of medical cannabis and industrial hemp products. Trade within the country will also be liberalized under the new guidance.
Industrial hemp can be used to create cannabidiol, or CBD, products that have grown massively popular for chronic pain, anxiety and other uses. Hemp itself has a long history of use in textiles, rope weaving and shipbuilding.
The policy change is a sharp departure in approach for a country that has made a name for its harsh drug enforcement policies since the election of conservative President Jair Bolsonaro last year.
Forbes reports the preliminary policy stance of Anvisa, Brazil’s quasi-equivalent of the FDA, came out this week but will be followed by more concrete legislation within the next 90 days or so. 
Previous arrangements for Brazilians to obtain medical marijuana was a complicated, lengthy and often expensive process that many couldn’t pursue despite their needs.
Forbes reports that Brazilian District Judge Renato Coelho Borelli, who ruled in favor of industrial hemp imports, said “industrial hemp is not confused with marijuana, has no ability to generate psychotropic effects, is intended exclusively for medicinal and industrial use, and is commonly cultivated for fiber production in several countries.” 
According to Law.com, the update makes Brazil the third Latin American country to regulate medical marijuana and cannabis. 
“We welcome this announcement by Anvisa,” said Francisco Ortiz von Bismarck, CEO of hemp company Terrace Global. 
“With our close geographic proximity to Brazil and significant cost advantages over Canadian producers, this is a tremendous opportunity for our Company to be early entrants into Brazil, the largest country in South America with a population of over 200 million people.” 
Still, the Brazilian legal change is limited in its scope.
“It should be noted that the present action is not intended for the importation, planting or marketing of Cannabis sativa, but for industrial hemp, which is a plant of the species Cannabis ruderalis, a member of the Cannabis sativa family, also known as cannabis is a different species,” Borelli said, according to Forbes.