Winning the war on drugs by treating it as a health issue


Portugal decriminalised the use of all drugs in 2001. Possession and use of small quantities of these drugs was treated as a public health issue, not a criminal one. The drugs were still illegal but now getting caught with them meant a small fine and maybe a referral to a treatment program — not jail time and a criminal record. Drug-induced deaths have decreased steeply since then. Portugal’s drug mortality rate is now the lowest in Western Europe — one-tenth the rate of Britain or Denmark, and about one-fiftieth the latest number for the U.S.

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