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Portugal, 10 Years after Decriminalization

According to a recent Forbes article, 10 years ago after all drugs in Portugal were decriminalized, drug abuse in the nation has been cut in half.  Portugal has had one of the most progressive drug policies out of modern countries, and they are a shining example of why we should follow their example and end the War on Drugs.  Most critics to Portugal’s decision thought that it would make the country a drug vacationing destination, but contrary to popular belief this never happened.  Drug addiction switched from being treated as a criminal problem to a health issue, and this allowed addicts much easier access to seek treatment instead of having them locked up in a cage.  Thus, drug abuse was treated more humanely and at a far cheaper cost to society.

According to the report:

Health experts in Portugal said Friday that Portugal’s decision 10 years ago to decriminalise drug use and treat addicts rather than punishing them is an experiment that has worked.

“There is no doubt that the phenomenon of addiction is in decline in Portugal,” said Joao Goulao, President of the Institute of Drugs and Drugs Addiction, a press conference to mark the 10th anniversary of the law.

The number of addicts considered “problematic” — those who repeatedly use “hard” drugs and intravenous users — had fallen by half since the early 1990s, when the figure was estimated at around 100,000 people, Goulao said.

Other factors had also played their part however, Goulao, a medical doctor added.

“This development can not only be attributed to decriminalisation but to a confluence of treatment and risk reduction policies.”

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One Response

  1. Here’s another reference and link to a detailed report from 2009 about Portugal’s decriminalization, for those interested…

    Greenwald, Glenn. “Drug Decriminalization in Portugal:
    Lessons for Creating Fair and Successful Drug Policies.” April 2, 2009. http://www.cato.org/pub_display.php?pub_id=10080 (accessed July 18, 2011).

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