The Amazing Story of What Happened When One Tiny Country Decriminalized ALL Drugs
Decriminalization has worked in Portugal, and should inspire governments around the world to do the same.
27 Jun 2015 – Portugal is one of Europe’s smallest countries, but until 2001 it had a BIG drug problem. One in 100 Portuguese citizens were addicted to heroin, a shocking statistic that was met with brute force and a zero tolerance policy by the country’s government. The strict laws meant that anybody caught with drugs– regardless of the amount, what kind of drug, and whether it was only for personal use- would be prosecuted (and often jailed).
The ‘War on Drugs‘ was a battle the government fought with passion and zeal- but no matter how many people went to prison, it just wasn’t working.
The government realized this and decided to do something that was considered extremely radical. They decriminalized everything, allowing citizens to carry small amounts of any drugs, including heroin. The idea was that casual users would be permitted to do their thing, while time, money and resources would be concentrated on helping (rather than prosecuting) addicts.
Since 2001, state-sponsored outreach workers have patrolled the streets, offering users clean needles and pipes. They call this ‘harm reduction.’ Portugal now spends 90% of its drug-related resources on treatment and only 10% on policing and punishment. In the USA, it’s the reverse.
Fear of going to prison was a huge barrier in terms of addicts coming forward and asking for help, but now they are free to do just that. As a result, heroin addiction has been cut by an incredible 50%, as one expert explained to Russell Brand here. Drug-related deaths in general have also dropped dramatically, from 80 in 2001 to just 16 in 2012.
Cesar Gaviria, the ex-President of Colombia between 1990 and 1994, is also featured in this video. He fought a bloody battle against the country’s drug cartels. As a result of this experience, Gaviria is now pro-legalization.
“The war on drugs really failed,” Gaviria says. “No matter what you do, the drugs get to the U.S.” He becomes emotional when he says: “We have suffered so much violence [in Colombia]. We have to look for a solution. We know that repression and prohibition don’t work. We know it. For certain. We have lived that.”
The second half of the 15-minute video looks at the changing situation in the USA, and specifically Colorado, where revenue from cannabis reached a massive $76m in 2014. This sum is set to rise to an estimated $94m next year, earmarked for schools and police services.
Is it possible that in the future, the USA might decide to not only decriminalize cannabis, but follow in Portugal’s footsteps and choose to help- rather than prosecute- all drug users? It’s likely that whatever happens in North America will cause a domino effect throughout the world, and could mean the end of the failed War on Drugs once and for all.
DISCLAIMER: The statements, views and opinions expressed in pieces republished here are solely those of the authors and do not necessarily represent those of TMS. In accordance with title 17 U.S.C. section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. TMS has no affiliation whatsoever with the originator of this article nor is TMS endorsed or sponsored by the originator. “GO TO ORIGINAL” links are provided as a convenience to our readers and allow for verification of authenticity. However, as originating pages are often updated by their originating host sites, the versions posted may not match the versions our readers view when clicking the “GO TO ORIGINAL” links. This site contains copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of environmental, political, human rights, economic, democracy, scientific, and social justice issues, etc. We believe this constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. For more information go to: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond ‘fair use’, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.
Click here to go to the current weekly digest or pick another article:
- Vaccine-Derived Polio Spreads in Africa after Defeat of Wild Virus
- Dengue Breakthrough after Mosquitoes Laced with Natural Bacteria
- C Is for Children--And Plenty of It, Too
EXPOSURES - EXPOSÉS:
- Two Massive New Leaks Show Dirty Underbelly of Empire
- Leaked Docs Expose Massive Syria Propaganda Operation Waged by Western Gov’t Contractors and Media
- Report Documents Criminality and Corruption at Heart of Global Banking System
- How a Police State Starts
- Julian Assange Receives First Visitors in Six Months: “He Is in a Lot of Pain”
- While EU Leaders Squabble, the Elephant in the Room Remains Unnoticed