The total number of people using drugs in Portugal has actually fallen by more than a third since the country began focusing on treatment programs instead of punishment.

In 2001, critics worried that drug addiction rates would skyrocket, but not only have they come down, heroin addiction rates have been cut in half.

HIV infections, which are spread by shared needles, have also been cut in half, while the number of drug-related deaths has been cut by 75%.

RELATED: Massachusetts Cops Decide Heroin Addicts Will Be Helped With Rehab, Not Arrested

Under the decriminalization law, users are allowed to possess a 10-day supply of illicit drugs — anything from marijuana to heroin – and those who have more are sent before a three-person drug commission. The panel decides on a fine or treatment, but opts for treatment in four out of every five cases.

About 25 countries have reduced criminal penalties for drug use since Portugal changed its approach on illicit drugs from a criminal matter to one of public health.

(LEARN more at – Photo by Jonik, CC

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  1. The fact we have a war on drugs or arrest people that use them shows a society that revolves around moral laws not science based laws, so we punish instead of save and improve lives. We must come to terms with the facts, humans have always use drugs, 10,000yrs of human history shows that and that even today humans will use drugs no matter the punishment, why, its human nature! Today its just weather you use legal(their drugs) or illegal(not “their” drugs) that makes you a normal citizen or a criminal, worthy of criticism and arrest! Yes let all hope we wake up and legalize all drugs, regulate them and control whom gets them and help those that have issues with them! Only time will tell, its been 80+ years and its so past the time for change, I almost wonder if it will ever happen?

  2. I would bet that the overall crime rate has dropped also. Decriminalization results in drastically lower prices, which in turn eases the pressure on addicts to commit criminal acts to finance their habit. Also, lower profit margins reduce the initiative for “turf wars” among illicit dealers. Also, law enforcement assets can be refocused on real crime, which also reduces the overall rate. In the end analysis, the biggest benefactor of decriminalization is the average citizen, who gets to enjoy a more normal life than s/he was living under siege in the “drug war”.
    This comment is the result of 30 years experience as a police officer. The drug war is a failure and will remain so until we get a lot more pragmatic in our approach to the problem.

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