Real-World Drug Decriminalization
I've long felt that decriminalization of drug use would be a great improvement over the so-called "War on Drugs". Now Portugal has 10 years' worth of results of such a step:
... [A] drastic reduction in addicts, with Portuguese officials and reports highlighting that this number, at 100,000 before the new policy was enacted, has been halved in the following ten years. Portugal's drug usage rates are now among the lowest of EU member states, according to the same report.
One more outcome: a lot less sick people. Drug related diseases including STDs and overdoses have been reduced even more than usage rates, which experts believe is the result of the government offering treatment with no threat of legal ramifications to addicts.
... In a country like America, which may take the philosophy of criminalization a bit far (more than half of America's federal inmates are in prison on drug convictions), other alternatives must, and to a small degree, are being discussed.
Note that decriminalization is not the same as legalization:
Portugal's move to decriminalize does not mean people can carry around, use, and sell drugs free from police interference. That would be legalization. Rather, all drugs are "decriminalized," meaning drug possession, distribution, and use is still illegal. While distribution and trafficking is still a criminal offense, possession and use is moved out of criminal courts and into a special court where each offender's unique situation is judged by legal experts, psychologists, and social workers. Treatment and further action is decided in these courts, where addicts and drug use is treated as a public health service rather than referring it to the justice system (like the U.S.)...
I'm not sure that legalization wouldn't be at least as effective, in some ways, but that's not what this news article is about.
[Thanks to my daughter, Anna, for pointing this out to me.]
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