Click images for more details



Recent comments
Recent posts
Currently discussing

A few sites I've stumbled across recently....

Powered by Squarespace
« Jeremy Bowen found to be biased on Middle East | Main | Another email scandal »

Legalising drugs works

Everyone knows the effect of making it easier to get hold of intoxicating substances - the country goes to hell in a handcart with the productive members of society sinking into a drug-fuelled haze, drug tourists descend en masse from every corner of the globe, bringing crime and corruption and disease, and civil society collapses into a general malaise from which it can never be extracted.

It's odd then that we haven't heard more about the Portuguese experiment: in 2001, Portugal decriminalised possession of drugs. All drugs: heroin, cocaine, cannabis, you name it. And the results of their experiment have been a trifle unexpected. The Cato Institute has the full story, but here are a few choice extracts:

The data show that, judged by virtually every metric, the Portuguese decriminalization framework has been a resounding success.

Fears of "drug tourism” have turned out to be completely unfounded.

Prevalence rates for the 15–19 age group have actually decreased in absolute terms since decriminalization.

In almost every category of drug, and for drug usage overall, the lifetime prevalence rates in the predecriminalization era of the 1990s were higher than the postdecriminalization rates.

The number of newly reported cases of HIV and AIDS among drug addicts has declined substantially every year since 2001.

The total number of drug-related deaths has actually decreased from the  redecriminalization
year of 1999 (when it totaled close to 400) to 2006 (when the total was 290).

Anyone who proclaims that they are in favour of legalisation of drugs is usually met with an incredulous reply of "What? All drugs?". It now seems that an unequivocal answer can now be given to this kind of disbelief.

"Yes. All drugs."


PrintView Printer Friendly Version

Reader Comments (4)

I did not read the Cato report, just your post.

I'm from a generation when everyone smoked, everywhere, and cigarette advertising was everywhere and was glamorous, yet didn't tempt me to smoke. Take the "cool" out of so called recreation drugs and young people may feel the same as I did about smoking.

I've long thought that heroin users should register and be supplied with a 'healthy' dose on a daily basis. Alas, it's too late, drug makers and suppliers are now more powerful, wealthy and better organised than many countries, I can't see them allowing this to happen.

Maybe if anti-drug campaigning focused on the criminals and all their blood money, it might have more effect than finger wagging about not doing drugs. Again, would these all powerful drug lords let this happen?
Apr 15, 2009 at 10:34 PM | Unregistered CommenterLesley
the report seems to make a distinction between decriminalising, and legalising. Those drugs, and taking those drugs, still appears to be illegal in Portugal;

"Thus, drug possession for personal use and drug usage itself are still legally prohibited, but violations of those prohibitions are deemed to be exclusively administrative violations and are removed completely from the criminal realm..."

not quite legalisation.

Apr 16, 2009 at 12:30 AM | Unregistered Commenterper

Yes, you are right. I'm not sure that the distinction is meaningful though. It strikes me more as a piece of PR to head of some of the criticism that would accompany the changes.
Apr 16, 2009 at 8:31 AM | Registered CommenterBishop Hill
The first and most powerful lobby against legalising drugs is, of course, those who make profits out of the system as it stands: the narcos.
Apr 22, 2009 at 10:20 AM | Unregistered CommenterRob

PostPost a New Comment

Enter your information below to add a new comment.

My response is on my own website »
Author Email (optional):
Author URL (optional):
Some HTML allowed: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <code> <em> <i> <strike> <strong>