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  • The Economic Crisis is a Danger for Harm Reduction in Portugal

    Posted on February 6th, 2012 TimB No comments

    Portugal is well known for its progressive drug policy – but the economic crisis may undermine effective harm reduction services in the country. Read a short report from our Portugese partner, APDES, and learn how NGOs fight to keep harm reduction on the agenda!

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  • Drug Policy in Portugal: The Benefits of Decriminalizing Drug Use

    Posted on September 8th, 2011 TimB No comments

    Ten years ago, Portugal launched an experiment that few countries had dared to try: the decriminalization of drug possession and use, including for drugs labelled by some countries as “hard,” such as cocaine and heroin.

    These changes to Portugal’s drug law and national policy have marked a turning point for the country and a milestone in international drug policy. Instead of seeking to diminish use by punishing users, the new measures consider drugs illegal but no longer treat drug consumption as a criminal offense. The changes are also particularly significant for Portugal, a conservative country marked by a history of fascistic governments and a Catholic Church that has a powerful influence on politics and social life.

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  • Portugal drug law show results ten years on, experts say

    Posted on July 2nd, 2011 TimB No comments

    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.

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  • Does Portugal have the solution to Irelands drug epidemic?

    Posted on June 13th, 2011 TimB No comments

    In 2001, the world’s media descended on one of Lisbon‘s poorer districts. Portugal had become the first country in the EU to decriminalise drug use and the coverage painted a bleak picture of the continent’s “most shameful neighbourhood” and “worst drugs ghetto” where addicts openly injected heroin.

    This “ultra-liberal legislation”, it was feared, would lead to drug tourists descending on Portugal. The leader of the country’s People’s Party, Paulo Portas, said plane-loads of foreign students would head for the Algarve for “sun, beaches and any drug you like”.

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  • 5 Years After: Portugal’s Drug Decriminalization Policy Shows Positive Results

    Posted on October 25th, 2010 TimB No comments

    In the face of a growing number of deaths and cases of HIV linked to drug abuse, the Portuguese government in 2001 tried a new tack to get a handle on the problem—it decriminalized the use and possession ofheroin, cocaine, marijuana, LSD and other illicit street drugs. The theory: focusing on treatment and prevention instead of jailing users would decrease the number of deaths and infections.

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  • Glenn Greenwald discusses his new Cato Institute paper

    Posted on September 13th, 2009 TimB No comments

    Glenn Greenwald discusses his new Cato Institute paper, “Drug Decriminalization in Portugal: Lessons for Creating Fair and Successful Drug Policies.” Greenwald is a constitutional lawyer and a contributing writer at Salon. He has authored several books, including A Tragic Legacy (2007) and How Would a Patriot Act? (2006). The interview was on WNYC radio.

  • “Drug Decriminalization in Portugal” featuring Glenn Greenwald

    Posted on September 13th, 2009 TimB No comments

  • How has decriminalisation fared in Portugal?

    Posted on September 9th, 2009 TimB No comments

    In 2001, amid lurid worldwide media coverage, Portugal made the decision to eliminate penalties for the personal use and possession of heroin, cocaine, and marijuana. Dire predictions were heard on all sides. According to the London Economist, this “ultraliberal legislation had set alarm bells ringing across Europe. The Portuguese were said to be fearful that holiday resorts would become dumping-grounds for drug tourists. Some conservative politicians denounced the decriminalization as ‘pure lunacy’”.

    Strictly speaking, Portugal did not legalize drugs. They decriminalized them—drug use and possession have been deemed administrative, not criminal, matters. Drug trafficking remains a criminal offense. Portugal is the only nation in the European Union (EU) to have made this blanket move, and Portuguese health officials have been at pains to point out that decriminalization in Portugal does not mean that drug use is in any way condoned or encouraged there.

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  • Will Portugal make Drugs legal ?

    Posted on June 9th, 2009 TimB No comments

    The BBC World Service reports In 2001 Portugal became the only European country to decriminalise all drugs from cannabis to heroin.

    Eight years later Claudia Hammond reports from Lisbon to find out how the policy has affected drug use. Using drugs for personal use is still illegal but users aren’t criminals. If caught with drugs they’re most likely to be offered treatment and if they accept, it is most likely sanctions will be waived. Claudia visits a drug treatment centre to find out how addicts are helped to kick the habit. She also talks to psychologists at one of Portugal’s dissuasion commissions to find out how first time users are discouraged from continuing drug use.

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