After Decriminalizing Drug Use, Drug Abuse Falls By Half In Portugal

Prohibition doesn't work2

America’s “war on drugs” is a losing battle. Despite trillions spent, and countless lives lost, drugs are about as accessible in America as they’ve ever been. You’d think this would be a good argument for ending the “war on drugs,” but drug warriors argue that if we end the prohibition drug abuse will get even worse. They argue that while the war on drugs hasn’t really put a dent in the availability of drugs, by making it at least somewhat difficult to buy and use drugs we’re keeping the country safer than it would be otherwise.

Exploding that theory is what has happened in Portugal ten years after decriminalizing drug use. Abuse of drugs in that country has now fallen by half (via The Liberty Beacon):

Health experts in Portugal said Friday that Portugal’s decision 10 years ago to decriminalise drug use and treat addicts rather than punishing them is an experiment that has worked.

“There is no doubt that the phenomenon of addiction is in decline in Portugal,” said Joao Goulao, President of the Institute of Drugs and Drugs Addiction, a press conference to mark the 10th anniversary of the law.

The number of addicts considered “problematic” — those who repeatedly use “hard” drugs and intravenous users — had fallen by half since the early 1990s, when the figure was estimated at around 100,000 people, Goulao said.

Other factors had also played their part however, Goulao, a medical doctor added.

“This development can not only be attributed to decriminalisation but to a confluence of treatment and risk reduction policies.”

You would think that America, of all countries, would understand the folly of this sort of prohibition. After all, our attempt at alcohol prohibition was a monumental failure which caused spikes in alcohol abuse and crime.

Why would we think things would be any better when it comes to narcotics?

Rob Port is the editor of SayAnythingBlog.com. In 2011 he was a finalist for the Watch Dog of the Year from the Sam Adams Alliance and winner of the Americans For Prosperity Award for Online Excellence. In 2013 the Washington Post named SAB one of the nation's top state-based political blogs, and named Rob one of the state's best political reporters. He writes a weekly column for several North Dakota newspapers, and also serves as a policy fellow for the North Dakota Policy Council.

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