Sunday, September 05, 2010

"What Britain could learn from Portugal's drugs policy"

A cannabis smoker in Porto, Portugal, during a march in favour of legalising drugs. Photograph: Estela Silva/EPA

A decade ago Portugal took a radical new approach to illegal drugs by treating users as people with social problems rather than as criminals. Could it work in the UK?---In the midst of the recently resurgent debate in Britain about whether our drug laws are working – or require a major overhaul – the experience of Portugal has become a crucial piece of evidence in favour of a radical approach that has confounded the expectations of even its conservative critics, so much so that in the last month British officials have asked their Portuguese counterparts for advice, with the only caveat being that they avoid mentioning the word "decriminalise".

It is, perhaps, an unnecessary sensitivity. For the reality is that, despite liberalising how it regards drug possession – now largely an administrative problem rather than a criminal offence – Portugal has not become a magnet for drug tourists like Amsterdam, as some had predicted. MORE...
Howie P.S.: H/t to Glenn Greenwald.

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