Portugal experiment: legalizing street drugs reduces use

| June 21, 2010 | Reply

In July, 2001, Portugal enacted a new law that the purchase, possession or use of any previously illegal drug would no longer be a criminal offense. Portugal’s official position is now treatment, not punishment.

Since decriminalization, drug use has gone down 10%, drug infections are down and drug deaths are down. Causation is convoluted, of course, but the drug use explosion predicted by many people never occurred. Ten other European countries have decriminalized drugs. Even in Great Britain, where punishment is still technically on the books, 80% of users who are caught are given a caution or a warning, and only about 1,000 people per year spend time in prison.

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Category: Drug laws

About the Author ()

Erich Vieth is an attorney focusing on consumer law litigation and appellate practice. He is also a working musician and a writer, having founded Dangerous Intersection in 2006. Erich and his wife, Anne Jay, live in the Shaw Neighborhood of St. Louis, Missouri, where they are raising their two extraordinary daughters.

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