Portugeuse drugs policy

May 6th, 2009 § 4 comments

Ben Goldacre

What happened when Portugal decriminalised all drugs?: go on, guess.

This did

“Judging by every metric, decriminalization in Portugal has been a resounding success,” says Glenn Greenwald, an attorney, author and fluent Portuguese speaker, who conducted the research. “It has enabled the Portuguese government to manage and control the drug problem far better than virtually every other Western country does.”

Compared to the European Union and the U.S., Portugal’s drug use numbers are impressive. Following decriminalization, Portugal had the lowest rate of lifetime marijuana use in people over 15 in the E.U.: 10%. The most comparable figure in America is in people over 12: 39.8%. Proportionally, more Americans have used cocaine than Portuguese have used marijuana.

The Cato paper reports that between 2001 and 2006 in Portugal, rates of lifetime use of any illegal drug among seventh through ninth graders fell from 14.1% to 10.6%; drug use in older teens also declined. Lifetime heroin use among 16-to-18-year-olds fell from 2.5% to 1.8% (although there was a slight increase in marijuana use in that age group). New HIV infections in drug users fell by 17% between 1999 and 2003, and deaths related to heroin and similar drugs were cut by more than half. In addition, the number of people on methadone and buprenorphine treatment for drug addiction rose to 14,877 from 6,040, after decriminalization, and money saved on enforcement allowed for increased funding of drug-free treatment as well.

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§ 4 Responses to Portugeuse drugs policy"

  • D-Notice says:

    I’d recommend that you read Glenn’s article in full


    Summary: prohibition doesn’t work

  • It’s sad that we can’t move past making it all illegal, I hope we see the end of criminalising it and the start of common sense thinking being won back from those on the right.

    • Sim-O says:

      So do I. It’s gonna be a long slog to get there.

      When I think about it with regard to my kids, in a way it feels instinctively wrong to be saying decriminalise it.
      But prohibition isn’t working and legal or not it is down to me as a parent to bring my kids up in a way that empowers them i) not to give in to peer pressure and do what they don’t want to do and ii) know the difference between being a bit edgy and having a smoke of blow (if they want) and being a fucking idiot and getting on the smack

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