Wednesday, 27 February 2013

Portugal ended the War On Drugs, and the results are in

Portugal Decriminalized All Drugs Eleven Years Ago And The Results Are Staggering: On July 1st, 2001, Portugal decriminalized every imaginable drug, from marijuana, to cocaine, to heroin. Some thought Lisbon would become a drug tourist haven, others predicted usage rates among youths to surge.  Eleven years later, it turns out they were both wrong.”

The results are in, and they’re clear:

  • a drastic reduction in addicts, with Portuguese officials and reports highlighting that this number, at 100,000 before the new policy was enacted, has been halved in the following ten years;
  • Portugal's drug usage rates are now among the lowest of EU member states;
  • a lot fewer sick people. Drug related diseases including STDs and overdoses have been reduced even more than usage rates.

What’s more, criminal gangs are left without the windfall profits from drugs they enjoy in every other jurisdiction. “The worst thing that can happen to the gangsters and organized crime is for marijuana or other drugs to be legalized.”

Freedom works. Prohibition still doesn’t.


  1. I can understand why decriminalisation would do crims and gangs out of a job and this is a good thing, as is the freeing up of police resources for tackling real crime . But I wonder why this results in Portugal's drug usage rates dropping overall?

    Anyway, great result and one that our own politicians would do well to emulate (but won't of course, coz its too sensible).

    Dave Mann

  2. 'Some thought Lisbon would become a drug tourist haven, others predicted usage rates among youths to surge.'

    I didn't.

    'But I wonder why this results in Portugal's drug usage rates dropping overall?'

    It's not rocket science.Now I wish they would just apply this principle to other issues.

  3. Dave: One reason, off the top of my head, is that there's no longer any money in criminals pushing drugs, so they stop. Dealing is still a crime, I believe, while possession and use are not. This means the dealer is taking all the risk, with less of the reward. There's way less motive then to "get people addicted", so only those who genuinely want to take/try drugs will do so.

    In short, dealers can no longer afford to provide the first one free. ;)

    That's my theory anyway.

  4. Oh, and of course I forgot that those who were addicts but didn't want to be can now get help for their addiction without having to confess to crime. So "trapped" users are now able to get clean.

    ...and... (they just keep coming) there's the lack of "coolness" appeal to youth, when drugs aren't demonised.

    This has me thinking... Dave, if you thought usage rates would increase, do you believe that the only reason people don't do something is because it's illegal? I'd argue that's like christians claiming that you need religion to be moral. If the only reason they won't kill me is because they think their god won't like it and will punish them, I don't really want to know them! ;)

  5. Addiction is a choice.



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