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Thread: Portugal's drug policy pays off; US eyes lessons

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    Portugal's drug policy pays off; US eyes lessons

    Ten years ago, the Lisbon neighborhood was a hellhole, a "drug supermarket" where some 5,000 users lined up every day to buy heroin and sneaked into a hillside honeycomb of derelict housing to shoot up. In dark, stinking corners, addicts — some with maggots squirming under track marks — staggered between the occasional corpse, scavenging used, bloody needles. At that time, Portugal, like the junkies of Casal Ventoso, had hit rock bottom: An estimated 100,000 people — an astonishing 1 percent of the population — were addicted to illegal drugs. So, like anyone with little to lose, the Portuguese took a risky leap:They decriminalized the use of all drugs in a groundbreaking law in 2000.


    Portugal's drug policy pays off; US eyes lessons - Yahoo! News
    Interesting. Here is what Portugal did. The drugs were still illegal, however, consequences resulted in treatment and counseling rather than prison.

    Here are some of their results:

    1) There were small increases in illicit drug use among adults, but decreases for adolescents and problem users, such as drug addicts and prisoners.

    2) Drug-related court cases dropped 66 percent.

    3) Drug-related HIV cases dropped 75 percent. In 2002, 49 percent of people with AIDS were addicts; by 2008 that number fell to 28 percent.

    4) The number of regular users held steady at less than 3 percent of the population for marijuana and less than 0.3 percent for heroin and cocaine — figures which show decriminalization brought no surge in drug use.

    5) The number of people treated for drug addiction rose 20 percent from 2001 to 2008.

    Interestingly enough, the government found that there was no additional cost. Monies were just diverted from the legal system to the public health system.

    The benefits of this plan are pretty obvious, though I would like to see some statistics on recidivism of the addicts that received treatment.

    This is very similar to the plan that I have outlined here at DP, several times. Do you think this could work in the US, and if so, how?
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    Re: Portugal's drug policy pays off; US eyes lessons

    Quote Originally Posted by CaptainCourtesy View Post
    Interesting. Here is what Portugal did. The drugs were still illegal, however, consequences resulted in treatment and counseling rather than prison.

    Here are some of their results:

    1) There were small increases in illicit drug use among adults, but decreases for adolescents and problem users, such as drug addicts and prisoners.

    2) Drug-related court cases dropped 66 percent.

    3) Drug-related HIV cases dropped 75 percent. In 2002, 49 percent of people with AIDS were addicts; by 2008 that number fell to 28 percent.

    4) The number of regular users held steady at less than 3 percent of the population for marijuana and less than 0.3 percent for heroin and cocaine — figures which show decriminalization brought no surge in drug use.

    5) The number of people treated for drug addiction rose 20 percent from 2001 to 2008.

    Interestingly enough, the government found that there was no additional cost. Monies were just diverted from the legal system to the public health system.

    The benefits of this plan are pretty obvious, though I would like to see some statistics on recidivism of the addicts that received treatment.

    This is very similar to the plan that I have outlined here at DP, several times. Do you think this could work in the US, and if so, how?
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    Re: Portugal's drug policy pays off; US eyes lessons

    Quote Originally Posted by CaptainCourtesy View Post
    Interesting. Here is what Portugal did. The drugs were still illegal, however, consequences resulted in treatment and counseling rather than prison.

    Here are some of their results:

    1) There were small increases in illicit drug use among adults, but decreases for adolescents and problem users, such as drug addicts and prisoners.

    2) Drug-related court cases dropped 66 percent.

    3) Drug-related HIV cases dropped 75 percent. In 2002, 49 percent of people with AIDS were addicts; by 2008 that number fell to 28 percent.

    4) The number of regular users held steady at less than 3 percent of the population for marijuana and less than 0.3 percent for heroin and cocaine — figures which show decriminalization brought no surge in drug use.

    5) The number of people treated for drug addiction rose 20 percent from 2001 to 2008.

    Interestingly enough, the government found that there was no additional cost. Monies were just diverted from the legal system to the public health system.

    The benefits of this plan are pretty obvious, though I would like to see some statistics on recidivism of the addicts that received treatment.

    This is very similar to the plan that I have outlined here at DP, several times. Do you think this could work in the US, and if so, how?
    Whether or not it works is now a moot question, as evidenced by what happened in Portugal. The War on Drugs is a total failure, as evidenced by what happened in the US. Time for us to dismantle this idiotic program, and move on to something that actually works.
    Last edited by danarhea; 12-29-10 at 02:40 PM.
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    Re: Portugal's drug policy pays off; US eyes lessons

    I'm posting this link, CC, because i read it this week, and thought you might also find it interesting. Similar, but related subject.

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    Re: Portugal's drug policy pays off; US eyes lessons

    Quote Originally Posted by CaptainCourtesy View Post
    Interesting. Here is what Portugal did. The drugs were still illegal, however, consequences resulted in treatment and counseling rather than prison.

    Here are some of their results:

    1) There were small increases in illicit drug use among adults, but decreases for adolescents and problem users, such as drug addicts and prisoners.

    2) Drug-related court cases dropped 66 percent.

    3) Drug-related HIV cases dropped 75 percent. In 2002, 49 percent of people with AIDS were addicts; by 2008 that number fell to 28 percent.

    4) The number of regular users held steady at less than 3 percent of the population for marijuana and less than 0.3 percent for heroin and cocaine figures which show decriminalization brought no surge in drug use.

    5) The number of people treated for drug addiction rose 20 percent from 2001 to 2008.

    Interestingly enough, the government found that there was no additional cost. Monies were just diverted from the legal system to the public health system.

    The benefits of this plan are pretty obvious, though I would like to see some statistics on recidivism of the addicts that received treatment.

    This is very similar to the plan that I have outlined here at DP, several times. Do you think this could work in the US, and if so, how?
    I believe such a plan could achieve similar results, but there is still glaring holes in such a policy in the form of blackmarket supply. Such a policy will not be effective in eliminating the massive drug gangs that plague inner and border cities. For example, (and this is from personal knowledge, i do not have a source) the majority of the worlds extacy is prodced in a section of Europe between Belgium and the Netherlands, even though extacy consumption is not a punishable offense by law.

    The biggest problem with the war on drugs is that it forces the market value for various illicit drugs to increase exponentially thereby drawing in the most dangerous of criminals in their pursuit of profit.
    It is not very unreasonable that the rich should contribute to the public expense, not only in proportion to their revenue, but something more than in that proportion.
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    Re: Portugal's drug policy pays off; US eyes lessons

    How many more tax dollars would have to be allocated to a program such as this?
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    Re: Portugal's drug policy pays off; US eyes lessons

    Quote Originally Posted by apdst View Post
    How many more tax dollars would have to be allocated to a program such as this?
    How much do taxpayers foot by funding current policy objectives? Basic logic would dictate these costs would fall.
    It is not very unreasonable that the rich should contribute to the public expense, not only in proportion to their revenue, but something more than in that proportion.
    "Wealth of Nations," Book V, Chapter II, Part II, Article I, pg.911

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    Re: Portugal's drug policy pays off; US eyes lessons

    Quote Originally Posted by apdst View Post
    How many more tax dollars would have to be allocated to a program such as this?
    No more (and in all likelihood less) tax dollars than have been pissed away for decades in enforcement costs related to in an ineffective policy of prohibition.

    Portugals experiment is one that the world should take notice of and to use as a guideline to design drug policies that would actually do more good than they do harm. I agree 100% with Goldenboy, the one major shortcoming (and it is large) is that the black market still exists, but unless we get a virtual anonymous agreement by ALL nations to scuttle the Single Convention treaty, it is as good as it gets (I forget the exact figures, but the treaty is still binding unless virtually all signators agree on not being bound by it).

    Decriminalization (which is what Portugal did) is all that can occur since the treaty mandates that unless there is a constitutional conflict there MUST be a penalty for drug possession, the Single Convention is the best insurance policy the drug gangs, cartels and runners have to insure they stay in business.

    Even decriminalization is better than prohibition for actually being able to deal with the problem, but it is on par with treating a cold with chicken soup - it helps some, but there are still major symptoms left untreated or ignored despite there being options to treat the entire stuffy head runny nose, coughing aching.. ect.

    edit to add this regarding the Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs:

    the Convention has no termination clause, and therefore would remain in effect even if only one signatory remained
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_...roposed_repeal
    Last edited by marduc; 12-29-10 at 09:01 PM.
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    Re: Portugal's drug policy pays off; US eyes lessons

    Quote Originally Posted by Goldenboy219 View Post
    How much do taxpayers foot by funding current policy objectives? Basic logic would dictate these costs would fall.
    Wouldn't shooting addicts be cheaper?
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    Re: Portugal's drug policy pays off; US eyes lessons

    Quote Originally Posted by American View Post
    Wouldn't shooting addicts be cheaper?
    You should ask some of the (former) addicts in this thread if they would have preferred being shot before they had an opportunity to go clean and turn their lives around
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