In 2000 Portugal activated its drug decriminalization policy, and in July 2001 it became legally effective. Now, fifteen years later, drug abuse is down by 50%, and overdose-related deaths are down 28%.
Eric Kain of Forbes writes: “Health experts in Portugal said that Portugal’s decision to decriminalize 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 in July 2011.”
“The number of addicts considered ‘problematic’ — those who repeatedly use ‘hard’ drugs and intravenous users — had fallen by half since the early 1990s, when the figure was estimated at around 100,000 people, Goulao said. Other factors had also played their part however, Goulao, a medical doctor added. ‘This development can not only be attributed to decriminalisation but to a confluence of treatment and risk reduction policies.’”
For 20 years The Economist has led calls for a rethink on drug prohibition. In a new pocket documentary, the editors of The Economist look at new approaches to drugs policy, from Portugal to Colorado. Drugs: War or Store? (which you can watch above) kicks off the magazine’s new Global Compass series, examining novel approaches to policy problems.