Why Portugal Decriminalized All Drugs

Written by AndyChalkley

In 2001, Portugal decriminalized all drugs. Meanwhile, the police in the Philippines have spent the last four years shooting thousands of addicts dead in the street.

Which is more effective – decriminalization or death?

In The War On Drugs Show, we examine the social implications of prohibition worldwide. Any attempt to shut down the trade in drugs such as heroin, cocaine, ecstasy, ketamine or weed invariably sets off a chain of events that just makes things worse, leaving a trail of death, illness, violence, slavery, addiction, crime and inequality across the globe. Everyone loses – except, in a weird kind of way, the drugs themselves.


Vasco Apolonio
I was a young Portuguese in the 90s, dealing with Heroín addiction since 1985. I have now a family. A good job. I’m very blessed for what my beloved country have done for me. I’ll do everything for my family and for Portugal.

Guilherme Machado
As a Portuguese, I am very happy with our drug policy. Nonetheless, there are still a few inconveniences, if not problems in the way we handle drugs. 1) Drugs in Portugal are still seen and analysed against the standard established in the 90s by heroin. This means that if you are caught smoking a joint in a park and if the police officer decides to bring you in, you´ll be treated like a complete addict (and interrogated by the police officers to know where you bought the drugs). When I was caught with less than 0.2g of hash, I was brought before a council of therapists that tried to figure out if I was an addict in need of help, which I´m not. Bottom line is, as a consumer of even light drugs like marijuana, you will be brought before the entire might of the bureaucratic health system of the country. We should be looking out for diseased people that have lost everything to alcohol and heroin, and not teenagers who like to smoke weed. Weed should be completely legal and regulated. This obviously comes from the fact that Portugal is still a very catholic country that holds a number of social prejudices against drugs like cannabis. 2) The second biggest problem is the fact that as an addict, you will not be taken care of in a cooperative way by health professionals. The way an addict enters the health system that protects them is through the police, who is usually violent and cohersive, not to talk about the fact that all of this only happens if the amount of drugs you´re carrying are below 5g. Any more and you´ll be prosecuted (and police officers will always try to make sure you are over the “Legal” amount). The problem with the police handling the entry of the addict into the system is that police officers are not trained properly to handle people with such pathology, and thus, it is much more likely for an addict to be overwhelmed by this makeshift justice system converted into a humanist health system than he is to look for and accept help. The main point is: decriminalization should only be temporary, as a way for society to lose its prejudice against drugs and drug addiction. The role of helping drug addicts should belong to health professionals and should not have a single trace of punition. The main goal is to reach a point in which drugs can be available in society (especially weed and hash), but we are able to respect their users while we guarantee that the consequences of drugs are of public knowledge – essentially helping people who really need help.

Drugs won the fight way long time ago. They’re on everything. Store pills 💊 are worse than smoking weed.

Don’t you think the goverment is like the cartel? It doesn’t profit off these drugs?

They will always win. You can’t remove society’s will!

Robert James
Here in the Philippines, we are fond of surface level of resolution on every social problem. Politicians are clowns being paid by the foreign cartels to cause chaos and social issues.

evolved monkey
I’ve seen many of my friends being swallowed whole by heavy drugs in the 80s and 90s. Here in Portugal, most of them would end on “Casal Ventoso”, injecting until one day they were dead. the diference is abismal now, we don’t sacrifice whole generations to drugs anymore. Better help, take them out of that way and out of the prisons and give them hope to rehabilitate their self worth. You can’t vitimize the victims already, although you can punish drug dealers with the outmost severity. I do agree adicts must be helped, but drug dealers must be punished with decades behind bars.

Simon Bowie
The problem with enforcement taking out dealers is that there will always be someone else step up to fill the void in the market. Even, when threatened with death, as seen in the Philippines, this won’t change.
Why? Power and cash.

Saved many many lifes and families here in Portugal.

lone wolf
As someone who grew up ln Portugal in the 90s, you’d see junkies in Lisbon shooting up their veins all over the place. They took down ‘Casal Ventoso’, where they use to sell. Now you see them selling in the main street. However, there are way less junkies. Honestly you used to walk on the main street and see syringes, burned spoons, and cut lemons 😂😂

I’m Filipino so I can give a bit of insight. No, a lot of people truly like him. He has actually done a lot for the country; supporting infrastructure etc. He’s a bit radical, but it’s much needed during these times. In the future, when things are less turbulent, a calmer person will be needed.

Cops here in the Philippines are intentionally killing addicts and drug sellers so that they won’t be able to expose the cops who are involved in the drug business. They even killed a mayor in his cell who was jailed for being involved in the drug business, many believed that he was silenced in order to protect the names of other people involved. The cops also killed a family member of a known mayor who was involved in the drug business where they were killed in a drug raid, he was transferred to a different prison and was killed. Though Philippines’ situation is not the same in Latin America, but there’s no difference when it comes to involvement of corrupt politicians and officers. Which makes the drug situation harder to resolve.

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