Legalisation Drogues Portugal
Portugal`s desire to decriminalise all drugs, not just so-called soft drugs such as cannabis, may seem surprising. However, more than 20 years after this controversial political decision, the results are positive. At the time, the government`s intention was clear: to put people at the centre of the debate and to promote prevention rather than punishment. Thus, what is sometimes referred to as the “Portuguese experience” proposed a radical solution to combat the increase in the number of drug addicts and thus limit drug-related violence. Instead of being punished, Portuguese drug addicts are instead accompanied, in particular, by references to detoxification and other medical accompaniments. 60Curiously, we have not yet seen an increase in the number of new problematic users. The problem is rather the increase in alcohol consumption: it is cheaper, more available. On the other hand, we have more people involved in smuggling, drug trafficking to survive. 25With regard to treatment, we have decided to assume that substitution treatments are also very important. We did not say that it should be mandatory treatment for everyone, but that it should be available across the country. We felt that geographic circumstances should not prevent people from accessing methadone or morphine if they wanted to undergo such treatment in consultation with their doctor. We believed that even if a person is unable to stop using drugs, they should have the means to live a better and longer life.
As far as reintegration is concerned, we have proposed positive discrimination against people in treatment. 30J.G.: Yes, the debate in Parliament was a little more complicated. We were faced with the usual duality: the left-wing parties supported the idea, the right-wing parties voted against it. The main comment from the right was that we would get sanctions from the United Nations for violating the International Drug Convention . But there were other arguments: Portugal would become a haven for drug addicts, we would see an explosion of drug tourism, planes would unload hundreds of tourists who would come to consume drugs for free, children would start taking drugs very early. Of course, we who were in favor of the strategy had no experience, so we were a little afraid of the consequences. But fortunately, today, more than fourteen years later, it can be said that none of this has happened. 12I think it is very important to understand how things went in our case. Suddenly, we were faced with a boom in experimentation, more and more people became “addicted” to certain drugs. In other countries, there is often a significant gap between the total number of people who experiment with drugs and the number of people who cause problems as a result of drug use. In Portugal, on the other hand, the gap was very small: almost all people who experimented with the drug during these years became dependent. In 2000, Portugal decriminalised individual use of all drugs.
17 years later, the results are conclusive. 4Finally, legalization consists of legalizing something that was not legalized until then, or giving a legal framework to something or an act that did not have one. In the drug debate, this would mean replacing prohibition with a system of state control of production for sale, as is currently the case in the Netherlands for certain drugs (marijuana or hashish). 32Today, we can look back and say that average drug use has decreased, that the number of overdoses and AIDS infections has decreased. And it is estimated that the number of problem drug users has steadily declined since the mid-1990s. That population was 100,000 people then, and we estimate it at 15,000 today, most of whom are involved in a treatment or prevention program. So it`s now hard to find someone who is completely isolated from a drug problem: people know where the services are, where to turn when their problems become unmanageable for them. As a result, the drug problem is now the 13th or even the 14th. on the list of citizens` concerns. It`s certainly not fully regulated, but it`s no longer central, it`s no longer an obsession. To understand this unique policy, we must go back to the end of the dictatorship in 1974. With the opening of borders, the doors are also opening to drugs circulating on the continent.
In a short time, the country has become a hub for international traffic and people have tried their hand at innovation without knowing the risks. Under the Portuguese law on the decriminalisation of drugs, in force since 2000, possession and consumption of cannabis are no longer considered criminal offences within the meaning of the law. This is called the decriminalization of cannabis. For João Goulão, director of the Institute of Drugs and Drug Addiction, “the middle class, the rich class, people started saying: `My son is not a criminal, he is someone who needs help.`” With its back to the wall, Portuguese society has begun to regard drug addiction as a disease that must be cured, not as a crime that must be punished. According to João Goulão, “the most important thing is the relationship that the subject has with the substance and not the substance itself”. According to the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction, the number of new drug-related HIV infections has increased from 1,016 cases in 2001 to 30 in 2016 since the new law came into force. The rate of drug-related deaths has also decreased and is now five times lower than the European average. 64M. There is a danger that drug policies, as conducted in the United States, will become the norm in African countries because of their dominance.
It may seem important to protect them from this. What do you think? 49J.G.: The drug is any substance or behavior that can produce the same kind of reward. Sometimes we forget that the root cause of drug use or certain behaviours related to drug use is the search for pleasure. People take drugs because they enjoy it, they feel excitement. The problem is when that pleasure becomes the only pleasure the person can feel. Here we are talking about dependence, dependence. 2Decriminalization means no longer criminalizing an act that was previously considered a criminal offence. In the drug debate, decriminalization means abandoning criminal penalties for drug use, but not legalizing supply. However, there are varying degrees of implementation of decriminalization. Some behaviours can thus be completely redirected (for example, private drug use in the home), while others are still considered criminal offences (for example, drug use on public roads).
Portugal decriminalised the use of all drugs in 2001, but public use remains a criminal offence that can lead to a ticket with a warning from the police and the introduction of a protective measure (obligation to contact an assessment service offering treatment or assistance). Portugal is a pioneer in terms of decriminalizing drug use Massive international cultural shifts in thinking about drugs and addiction are needed to make room for decriminalization and legalization worldwide. In the United States, the White House is reluctant to address what drug reform advocates have called “addiction to punishment.” .