In 2001, Portugal decriminalised the consumption and possession of drugs for personal use. Under the new law, drug consumption and possession constitutes an administrative offence, not a criminal offence subject to incarceration. This decision was made as part of a multifaceted and comprehensive approach promote heath of and engagement with drug users, which also included expanding harm reduction programmes (NEP, OST, outreach) and the availability of treatment options.
Eight years later we have results. None of these can be attributed specifically to decriminalisation alone, as the change in legislation is only one part of Portugal’s comprehensive apporcah.
– Accoriding to schools surveys, drug use has decreased among 12-19 year old students
– There has been a decrease in new HIV infections among injecting drug users
– There has been no increase in ‘drug tourism’
The Deputy Health Minister noted that the World Drug Report recently confirmed that Portugal’s approach is consistent with obligations under the UN drug conventions.