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Scientists Defend Brazil’s World-Renowned Marijuana Researcher After Police Probe

Scientists Defend Brazil’s World-Renowned Marijuana Researcher After Police Probe

Dina Al-Shibeeb
But Carlini, who is an emeritus professor of pharmacology at the Federal University of São Paulo and the director of the Brazilian Centre for Information on Psychotropic Drugs

Elisaldo Luiz de Araujo Carlini is the Brazilian scientist behind findings that led to a number of cannabis-based treatments for epilepsy and multiple sclerosis. The treatments are now a standard practice across the world.

But Carlini, who is an emeritus professor of pharmacology at the Federal University of São Paulo and the director of the Brazilian Centre for Information on Psychotropic Drugs, was probed by police on Feb. 21 following his alleged advocacy for the use of drugs, Times Higher Education reported.

The police investigating Carlini, 87, for his alleged drug apologist view has sparked uproar in the Brazilian academic circles.

Both the Brazilian Academy of Sciences and the Brazilian Society for the Advancement of Science came to Carlini’s defense.

“Dr. Carlini remains the most respected Brazilian scientist working in the area of drugs,” they said in a joint statement.

They said accusing Carlini of being a drug apologist is “cruel and empty provocation against a scientist who has dedicated his whole life to the frontier of knowledge.”

The police’s accusations were thrown at Carlini after the scientists organized an annual marijuana symposium in Brazil last May.

Wanted Convicted Drug Trafficker to Attend

During the symposium, Carlini said he invited Geraldo Antonio Baptista, the founder of Brazil’s first Rastafarian church and a convicted drug trafficker.

bap - Scientists Defend Brazil’s World-Renowned Marijuana Researcher After Police Probe
Geraldo Antonio Baptista. (File photo)

Carlini said he had requested that Baptista be given a temporary leave from prison to attend the conference. Baptista was jailed in 2013 and sentenced to 14 years in prison.

“Strong Evidence”?

But for state prosecutor Rosemary Azevedo da Silva, Carlini’s invitation to Baptista made it look as “indignation” and provided “strong evidence of apology to crime”.

The police are still investigating and have not placed any charges against Carlini.

During his testimony at the São Paulo state public prosecutor’s office, Carlini said marijuana is “increasingly recognized as a good drug and has positive effects widely described by the world scientific community, especially in cases of multiple sclerosis and epilepsy.”

He added:

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“But I’ve never spoken a word for or against recreational use.”

For almost six decades, Carlini researched the psychological effects of legal and illegal drugs.

Carlini has researched marijuana since the 1950s and has published several seminal papers on the anticonvulsive properties of cannabinoids, The Nature website reported.

“I have fought for decades to show that marijuana is a serious plant,” The Nature quoted Carlini as saying.

“Dozens of countries have already regulated medical marijuana. The current legislation is a shame to Brazilian science and to Brazil.”

Marijuana is illegal in Brazil, but possession and cultivation of personal amounts and for private use were decriminalized in 2006. Also, limited cannabis-based medicines are permitted as of 2017.

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