BRASILIA, Brazil (AP) — A higher court in Brazil on Tuesday granted three patients permission to grow cannabis for medical purposes, a decision that will likely be applied nationwide in similar cases.

A panel of five judges from the country’s Superior Court of Justice unanimously agreed that the three patients could grow cannabis and extract its oil for use in pain relief. Brazilian law currently limits the medical use of marijuana-derived products to imported products.

The Brazilian Ministry of Health has yet to regulate the home cultivation of cannabis for medical use, which puts anyone who does so at risk of arrest.

Judge Rogério Schietti said the higher court panel acted because the government failed to take a scientific position on the matter.

“The discourse against this possibility is moralistic. It often has a religious nature, based on dogma, on false truths, on stigma,” Schietti said. “Let’s stop this prejudice, this moralism which delays the development of this dossier in the legislative elections, and which often obscures the minds of Brazilian judges.”

Judge Antonio Saldanha said “there is a deliberately retrograde move towards obscurantism” in the Brazilian government’s delay.

The country’s health ministry did not respond to a request for comment from The Associated Press.

President Jair Bolsonaro, a far-right politician facing an uphill battle for re-election in October, said in June 2021 that he disagreed with any permission for Brazilians to grow marijuana in their homes. , regardless of their purpose.

Former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, the main leader of the left-wing Workers’ Party, is leading all opinion polls to return to the post he held from 2003 to 2010.

Uruguay is the only country in South America where the use of marijuana is legal even for recreational purposes. Argentina approved a law on May 27 to regularize the medical use of cannabis and created a regulatory agency to control how patients obtain seeds and products derived from marijuana.

The Brazilian court’s decision follows protests in Brazil in support of medical cannabis on June 11.