Apparently decriminalization works. All evidence from Portugal seems to lead thought in that direction.
That is a far cry from when they announced they would decriminalize opium, as well as other narcotics. Tales of gloom and doom, of addicts laying in streets begging for another hit, of college students flocking to Portugal to indulge legally in recreational drugs….
It was then, forgotten…..
But two years ago the Cato institute published data on it’s effectiveness. Here are some surprises….
“Except for some far-right politicians, very few domestic political factions are agitating for a repeal of the 2001 law.”
“Data indicates that decriminalization has had no adverse effect on drug usage rates in Portugal, which, in numerous categories, are now among the lowest in the EU, particularly when compared with states with stringent criminalization regimes.”
Drug-related pathologies — such as sexually transmitted diseases and deaths due to drug usage — have decreased dramatically.
Since Portugal enacted its decriminalization scheme in 2001, drug usage in many categories has actually decreased when measured in absolute terms.
The number of people in methadone treatment leaped from 6,040 in 1999 to 14,877 in 2003, an increase of 147% . . . . The number of places of detoxification, therapeutic communities and half-way
houses, has also increased. .
The number of newly reported cases of HIV and AIDS among drug
addicts has declined substantially every year since 2001…
For the period 2001–2005, Portugal—for the 15–64 age group—has the absolute lowest lifetime prevalence rate for cannabis, the most
used drug in the EU.
For usage rates of cocaine (the second-most commonly used drug in Europe) for the same period and the same age group, only five
countries had a lower prevalence rate than the Portuguese rate. Most EU states have double, triple, quadruple, or even higher rates than Portugal’s, including some with the harshest criminalization schemes in the EU!
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.
The Portuguese have seen the benefits of decriminalization, and therefore there is no serious political push in Portugal to return to
a criminalization framework.
This policy works. Now if it had the hell taxed out of it, we could eliminate this country’s deficit in a very short time.