Ten Years Ago Portugal Legalized All Drugs -- What Happened Next?

http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article28603.htm

When the nation legalized all drugs within its borders, most critics predicted disaster. But a decade later, drug use has plunged dramatically.

By Tony O'Neil

July 16, 2011
"
Information Clearing House" -- The government in Portugal has no plans to back down. Although the Netherlands is the European country most associated with liberal drug laws, it has already been ten years since Portugal became the first European nation to take the brave step of decriminalizing possession of all drugs within its borders—from marijuana to heroin, and everything in between. This controversial move went into effect in June of 2001, in response to the country’s spiraling HIV/AIDS statistics. While many critics in the poor and largely conservative country attacked the sea change in drug policy, fearing it would lead to drug tourism while simultaneously worsening the country’s already shockingly high rate of hard drug use, a report published in 2009 by the Cato Institute tells a different story. Glenn Greenwald, the attorney and author who conducted the research, told Time: “Judging by every metric, drug decriminalization in Portugal has been a resounding success. It has enabled the Portuguese government to manage and control the drug problem far better than virtually every other Western country."

Back in 2001, Portugal had the highest rate of HIV among injecting drug users in the European Union—an incredible 2,000 new cases a year, in a country with a population of just 10 million. Despite the predictable controversy the move stirred up at home and abroad, the Portuguese government felt there was no other way they could effectively quell this ballooning problem. While here in the U.S. calls for full drug decriminalization are still dismissed as something of a fringe concern, the Portuguese decided to do it, and have been quietly getting on with it now for a decade. Surprisingly, most credible reports appear to show that decriminalization has been a staggering success. 

The DEA sees it a bit differently. Portugal, they say, was a disaster, with heroin and HIV rates out of control. "Portugal's addict population and the problems that go along with addiction continue to increase," the DEA maintains. "In an effort to reduce the number of addicts in the prison system, the Portuguese government has an enacted some radical policies in the last few years with the eventual decriminalization of all illicit drugs in July of 2001."

However, as Glenn Greenwald, the author of the Cato study, concludes: "By freeing its citizens from the fear of prosecution and imprisonment for drug usage, Portugal has dramatically improved its ability to encourage drug addicts to avail themselves of treatment. The resources that were previously devoted to prosecuting and imprisoning drug addicts are now available to provide treatment programs to addicts." Under the perfect system, treatment would also be voluntary, but as an alternative to jail, mandatory treatment save money. But for now, "the majority of EU states have rates that are double and triple the rate for post-decriminalization Portugal," Greenwald says.

For those looking for clues about how the U.S. government can tackle its domestic drug problem, the figures are enticing. Following decriminalization, Portugal eventually found itself with the lowest rates of marijuana usage in people over 15 in the EU: about 10%. Compare this to the 40% of people over 12 who regularly smoke pot in the U.S., a country with some of the most punitive drugs laws in the developed world. Drug use of all kinds has declined in Portugal: Lifetime use among seventh to ninth graders fell from 14.01% to 10.6%.  Lifetime heroin use among 16-18 year olds fell from 2.5% to 1.8%.  And what about those horrific HIV infection rates that prompted the move in the first place? HIV infection rates among drug users fell by an incredible 17%, while drug related deaths were reduced by more than half. "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, at a press conference to mark the 10th anniversary of the law.

We’re not holding our breath that the Portuguese example will lead to any kind of abrupt about-face in America's  own sputtering drug war, which is still sputtering steadily along at a cost of trillions a year. However, with the medical marijuana movement so far refusing to be strangled out of existence by the DEA, Senators Jim Webb and Arlen Specter recently made a proposal to create a blue ribbon commission to look at prison and drug sentencing reform. And for any pro-legalization presidential hopefuls in 2012, the movement for a common sense drug policy in the United States may be finally moving into the mainstream.

 Want to get the latest on America's drug & rehab culture? Sign up for The Fix's newsletter here.

© 2011 The Fix All rights reserved.

Views: 179

Comment

You need to be a member of 12160 Social Network to add comments!

Join 12160 Social Network

Comment by Marklar on December 22, 2011 at 4:40pm

An we haven't invaded to liberate them yet? Remarkable.

Comment by Cryptocurrency on December 21, 2011 at 1:27pm

What happened next? Wait... wait... I know this one...

People got hiiiigh!!

Comment by TommyD on December 21, 2011 at 12:59am

Largest damn cash crop in the history of the world and it is illegal...

Comment by Randy on July 20, 2011 at 3:48pm
Comment below is exactly right.  Tax is what they do best.  And the penal system is a huge cash cow.  Where is this "freedom" in Amerika that everyone is always talking about?
Comment by youhavetoforgiveme on July 20, 2011 at 4:29am

lol....at least I now know that I was right. Instead of ciminalize it, TAX it. That's what government does best, right?

 

Never happen here-- the "mob" has too much to lose and the government would never give up its penal system cash cow.

"Destroying the New World Order"

TOP CONTENT THIS WEEK

THANK YOU FOR SUPPORTING THE SITE!

mobile page

12160.info/m

12160 Administrators

 

Latest Activity

Doc Vega posted blog posts
3 hours ago
tjdavis posted a photo
6 hours ago
rlionhearted_3 posted photos
9 hours ago
MAC posted a video
20 hours ago
tjdavis posted videos
20 hours ago
rlionhearted_3 commented on cheeki kea's photo
Thumbnail

who would win a debate?

"It gets waaayy worse. TPTB want to normalize this gross fat bullshit."
yesterday
Doc Vega posted photos
yesterday
cheeki kea posted photos
yesterday
cheeki kea commented on cheeki kea's photo
yesterday
cheeki kea commented on tjdavis's video
Thumbnail

How They Will Use Your Doctor to Disarm You

"why of cause Any Mental Health issue would be enough to cause concern and it's known that in…"
yesterday
tjdavis favorited Doc Vega's blog post The Modern Day Twilight Zone!
yesterday
Doc Vega posted a blog post

The Modern Day Twilight Zone!

Here at the Twilight Zone I can make no apologies for the insanity you are about to see!It must be…See More
Sunday
rlionhearted_3 posted photos
Sunday
Sandy commented on Sandy's photo
Saturday
Sandy posted a photo
Saturday
Doc Vega posted photos
Friday
Doc Vega posted blog posts
Friday
Doc Vega commented on Doc Vega's blog post Was Sabotage or Terrorism used in the Collapse of the Francis Scott Key Bridge?
"Less Prone thanks for the reply. Yes, these events could be very effective at destroying the US…"
Friday
tjdavis posted photos
Thursday
Doc Vega posted photos
Thursday

© 2024   Created by truth.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service

content and site copyright 12160.info 2007-2019 - all rights reserved. unless otherwise noted