Summary: Portugal, once celebrated for its progressive drug decriminalization policies, is witnessing a resurgence of visible drug use in urban areas, leading to calls for a reevaluation of its approach. The country decriminalized all drugs for personal use in 2001, leading to a decrease in HIV transmission rates, prison populations, and overdose rates. However, recent years have seen a rise in overdose rates, drug-related debris, and crime, attributed to increased drug use. Some are calling for limited re-criminalization in urban areas and near schools and hospitals, while João Goulão, the architect of Portugal’s drug decriminalization policy, attributes the issues to a lack of funding and decentralization of drug oversight.
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Reevaluating Portugal’s Drug Decriminalization Policy in Light of Urban Drug Use Surge
In light of Portugal’s previous success with progressive drug decriminalization policies, the country is now grappling with a resurgence of visible drug use in urban areas. This has prompted a reevaluation of their approach.
Back in 2001, Portugal decriminalized all drugs for personal use, shifting their focus from punishment to harm reduction. As a result, the country experienced a decline in HIV transmission rates, prison populations, and overdose rates. However, recent years have witnessed a concerning increase in overdose rates, drug-related litter, and crime, which law enforcement attributes to the rise in drug use. Consequently, there are growing demands for a reexamination of the policy, with some suggesting the possibility of limited re-criminalization in urban areas and in proximity to schools and hospitals.
João Goulão, the mastermind behind Portugal’s decriminalization policy, believes that the issues at hand stem from insufficient funding and the decentralization of drug oversight, rather than the policy itself.[Source: Washington Post]
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