Senators in Brazil pass forced rehab for drug users

FILE- In this May 3, 2019 file photo, Brasil's President Jair Bolsonaro attends a ceremony to commemorate Diplomat Day, at the Itamarty Palace, in Bra...

FILE- In this May 3, 2019 file photo, Brasil's President Jair Bolsonaro attends a ceremony to commemorate Diplomat Day, at the Itamarty Palace, in Bra...

SAO PAULO (AP) — Brazil's Senate approved a series of drug policy changes Wednesday designed to toughen penalties for traffickers and require users to undergo rehabilitation at private or religious centers, acting ahead of a Supreme Court decision on the decriminalization of marijuana consumption and possession.

The bill would raise to eight years from five the minimum penalty for traffickers who lead criminal organizations. In addition, it would reinforce the role of therapeutic communities that in Brazil often are linked to religious institutions, which can receive private donations and public funding to support their activities.

The legislation has the approval of the government of far-right President Jair Bolsonaro, who must sign the measure for it to become law.