“Contrary to predictions, the Portuguese decriminalisation did not lead to major increases in drug use,” Dr Hughes and Professor Stevens wrote. “Indeed, evidence indicates reductions in problematic use, drug-related harms and criminal justice overcrowding.”
In July 2001, Portugal decriminalised the possession of up to 10 days’ supply of all types of illicit drugs. Instead of being arrested, people found in possession of these substances were referred to regional ‘committees for the dissuasion of addiction’. Simultaneously, Portugal increased its investment in treatment and harm reduction services, for example methadone substitution treatment for people who are dependent on heroin.
Since 2001, there has been only a modest increase in adult drug use (in line with other southern European countries), a reduction in drug-related deaths and HIV infections, a reduction in the burden of drug offenders on the prison system, and an increase in the quantity of drugs seized by the authorities.
The study, “What can we learn from the Portuguese decriminalisation of illicit drugs?”, is published in the British Journal of Criminology.
To read the full media release go to the NDARC website.
Contact: Marion Downey, NDARC | 02 9385 0180 |