Friday, July 03, 2009
Portugal Decriminalized Drugs.
The Results WILL Surprise You
Eight years ago, Portugal decided not to prosecute those who purchase, possess or use illegal drugs. The results reflect a downturn in drug use.
Read the whole BBC story. Here are some excerpts:
Many had predicted disaster - that plane loads of "drug tourists" would descend on Portugal knowing that they couldn't end up in court. But what one politician called "the promise of sun, beaches and any drug you like" simply hasn't materialised.
In fact, overall drug consumption appears stable or down - government statistics suggest a 10% fall.
Among teenagers, the statistics suggest that the use of every illicit substance has fallen.
...what strikes me is that there is absolutely no evidence that drug use has risen.
Drug trafficking remains a serious criminal offence: Portugal hasn't legalised drugs. But people caught with a quantity of drugs deemed for their personal use (roughly ten days' supply) are sent to a local dissuasion commission panel.
The one I attended consisted of a social worker and a legal expert and they were looking at the case of Joanna, a heroin addict. The commission has the power to issue fines - while no longer a criminal offence, possession is still prohibited in Portugal - but the user here is addicted to drugs, so a fine is ruled inapplicable. The commission encourages her to go into treatment by offering to suspend other sanctions.
In the eight years since Portugal shocked the world with its drug policy, the idea that users need care not punishment has swept across Europe. In 10 EU countries, possession of some, if not all illegal substances is not generally pursued as a crime. In Britain, while officially the use of banned drugs is a criminal offence, Ministry of Justice figures (cited in UK Focal Point report [908Kb PDF]) show that 80% of people dealt with for possession are given a warning or a caution.
...if you take the crime out of drug use, the sky doesn't fall in.
Add your comments if you agree with me or the BBC story, or think I'm off my rocker.
I could even hug some nice old ladies during the process.
I don't mean you personally,(you can share that if you want), but whether the BBC is accurate and what you've seen as far as the decrim.
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