Friday, May 8, 2009

Portugal's Intelligent Drug Policy Pays Off

Did you know what Portugal has the most liberal drug policy in the Western world? It's true! Eight years ago, the country decriminalized personal possession of nearly every kind of drug. This was in response to a huge usage rate that was clogging their legal and penal system (sound familiar?). Instead of shipping drug users off to jail, those found with drugs are offered an addiction treatment program. This ends up being cheaper for the state than incarceration and keeps drug activity from being forced into a dangerous underground subculture. And if you're a drug user who doesn't want treatment, you can refuse it without any penalty. Far from turning Portugal into a wretched hive of scum and villainy, the more liberal and sensible drug policy has decreased the spread of HIV from needle swapping, doubled the number of people in addiction treatment programs, saved the government a ton of money, and even lowered the overall drug usage rates to levels the U.S. drug czar could only dream of. In short, decriminalizing a victimless activity engaged in by consenting adults has actually improved overall quality of life. Who'd've thunk? More details here.

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