Drug Decriminalization in Portugal: Lessons for Creating Fair and Successful Drug Policies by Glenn GreenwaldGlenn Greenwald is an American lawyer, columnist, blogger and author who worked as a constitutional and civil-rights litigator prior to becoming a contributor (columnist and blogger) to Salon.com, where he focuses on political and legal topics. He has also contributed to other newspapers and political news magazines, including The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, The American Conservative, The National Interest, and In These Times.
This Is Norway's Plan To Decriminalize Drugs (HBO)
Drug decriminalisation in Portugal: setting the record straight.
That's because 16 years ago, Portugal took a leap and decriminalized the possession of all drugs — everything from marijuana to heroin. By most measures, the move has paid off. Today, Portuguese authorities don't arrest anyone found holding what's considered less than a day supply of an illicit drug — a gram of heroin, ecstasy, or amphetamine, two grams of cocaine, or 25 grams of cannabis. Instead, drug offenders receive a citation and are ordered to appear before so- called "dissuasion panels" made up of legal, social, and psychological experts. Most cases are simply suspended. Individuals who repeatedly come before the panels may be prescribed treatment, ranging from motivational counseling to opiate substitution therapy.
Since it decriminalised all drugs in , Portugal has seen dramatic drops in overdoses, HIV infection and drug-related crime. By Susana Ferreira. Tue 5 Dec W hen the drugs came, they hit all at once. It was the 80s, and by the time one in 10 people had slipped into the depths of heroin use — bankers, university students, carpenters, socialites, miners — Portugal was in a state of panic.
Portugal decriminalised the use of all drugs in Weed, cocaine, heroin, you name it — Portugal decided to treat possession and use of small quantities of these drugs as a public health issue, not a criminal one. The drugs were still illegal, of course. But now getting caught with them meant a small fine and maybe a referral to a treatment program — not jail time and a criminal record. Among Portuguese adults, there are 3 drug overdose deaths for every 1,, citizens. Comparable numbers in other countries range from
I n , Portugal was experiencing an opioid-involved overdose crisis, similar to the one gripping the United States. The country used criminalization and incarceration to try to manage drug use, while HIV rates among people who use drugs were the highest in Europe.
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In the s, some 5, addicts roamed the streets of the hilly neighborhood, searching for their daily fix as dirty syringes piled up in the gutters. Back then, Portugal was in the grip of heroin addiction. As the government prepared to demolish Casal Ventoso in , he was working with the addicts living in the neighborhood. Some lost their arms or legs due to overusing. Nothing was working. On the other side of the Atlantic, the U. But in , Portugal took a radical step.
Portugal decriminalised the possession of all drugs for personal use in , and there now exists a significant body of evidence on what happened following the move. Both opponents and advocates of drug policy reform are sometimes guilty of misrepresenting this evidence, with the former ignoring or incorrectly disputing the benefits of reform, and the latter tending to overstate them. Most notably, HIV infections and drug-related deaths have decreased, while the dramatic rise in use feared by some has failed to materialise. Portugal decriminalised the personal possession of all drugs in This means that, while it is no longer a criminal offence to possess drugs for personal use, it is still an administrative violation, punishable by penalties such as fines or community service. There was a growing consensus among law enforcement and health officials that the criminalisation and marginalisation of people who use drugs was contributing to this problem, and that under a new, more humane, legal framework it could be better managed. Portugal complemented its policy of decriminalisation by allocating greater resources across the drugs field, expanding and improving prevention, treatment, harm reduction and social reintegration programmes.