Portugal's Drug Laws

Use is no longer criminal but selling is illegal. But even sellers can get away selling if they are carrying small quantities to a user to buy. They just have to say they are carrying it to use rather than sell.

Of course, those are probably small time street dealers. The big dealers I assume bring in huge quantities to Portugal.

Views on Portugal’s approach? And is Portugal now “The Land of the Free”?

Video: journeyman.tv/62780/short-films/legal-fix.html


After suffering the highest instance of drug-related deaths in all Europe, Portugal took a brave decision and decriminalised all drugs. Ten years on, is it a success story for other nations to follow?

On the streets of Lisbon drug users light up wherever they want. One police officer tells us the girl across the street is smoking crack. He complains, but few share his sentiment. “Considering drug users as criminals just because they are using drugs is not a very realistic approach”, a Portuguese drug addiction officer argues. He has just had an interview with a sixteen-year-old boy caught smoking hashish. No punishment was handed out, just advice. In Portugal it’s now seen as a health problem, rather than a criminal one.

Assuming this approach works in the long run, I’d say the effectiveness of this approach in other countries is directly related to how closely these other countries are to Portugal in terms of culture, population make up, governance, population size, etc.

Bravo to Portugal. bringing some sanity to the situation.

Well a huge amount of inmates are in for drug addiction related offenses. The costs are enormous and we are jailing addicts who aren’t otherwise criminals and in some cases introducing them to the criminal life style. Some sort of different approach is worth trying and Portugal certainly has an interesting approach. We certainly need to treat addicts as addicts and not criminals. The de facto racial inequality present in our drug laws should also make any Christian interested in drug law reform.

In an Orwellian twist on Marx, we are approaching the point of opium being the religion of the masses.

From what I can tell, using drugs is still illegal in Portugal, however use has been decriminalized.

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.), reports Fox News.


The article, and several earlier news articles, claim that this policy has worked to lower addiction to drugs and lower disease.

What you say is more accurate, Dale.

Hey, what do you think about this in conjunction with Portugal’s decriminalization of drugs:


According to the European Safety Observatory, Lisbon is the safest European capital together with Helsinki. That statistic is based on the percentage of people who have been victims of a crime in the previous five years. Although random violent crime is almost non-existent in Lisbon (it’s the European capital with the lowest homicide rate according to a Eurostat report released in early 2012), pickpocketing is quite common in the city’s trams, especially the ones popular with tourists (numbers 28 and 15). Recently there has also been an increase in purse snatching so common sense precautions are advised.

(Bold my emphasis)

That really surprised me when I read it. But that’s only one source and I’m giving the benefit of the doubt to the article that its claims are true. If true, however, that is quite impressive.

I’m trying to imagine a society where tears (loved ones of murder victims) and incarceration aren’t the norm. Then again there are many things that can bring tears.

Mexico seems to be one extreme and Portugal possibly another. Where is the United States… in the middle?


MILWAUKEE - Milwaukee Police spent Thanksgiving morning investigating three murders and five other shootings that happened in the city in eight-and-a-half hours.

Some how I doubt it was any crack or heroin addict involved in any of those.

Hi - I am Portuguese and live in Lisbon. My personal evaluation of the measures taken a few years ago is positive. I should warn you guys, though, that taking drugs is still illegal but the twist here is that you do not go to jail if you’re caught consuming drugs or with small amounts of drugs. I would say that the problem receded a lot. I grew up in a smaller city West of Lisbon in the late 80s. A couple of my friends actually died because of drugs. I remember at 11th grade some students leaving the classroom for the break and heading immediately to the alley in the back of the gymnasium to smoke marijuana.
During the 90s there were many drug addicts hanging around in the streets of Lisbon and providing unsolicited services like helping you park your car. These things are now rarer.
Another important aspect of the Portuguese solution has been to put drug addicts under detox programs with methadone. And that is expensive. Very expensive. Many of them end up in prison because they commit other crimes.
Combat to drug traffickers still goes on in a robust way.
As for crime, it should be said that I don’t think there’s a strong link between the drug policy and the low crime rates. Crime has always been very low in Portugal. As an university student during the 90s, I roamed the streets of Lisbon at night for five years and was never assaulted or witnessed any assault, and I think that was when drug consumption peaked in Portugal.
Pickpocketing is frequent, people tell me.

Thank you, Antunesaa, for your comments. It is nice to actually get someone’s view point who is Portuguese and living in Portugal.

Finding out a few things about Australia and Portugal has me more intrigued about these two nations I never gave much thought about before.

Hi - I answered to your PM but apparently your mailbox is full…

May God bless every single person who had a hand in changing Portugal’s drug laws!!!

I knew of their changed laws, but It’s quite interesting to learn that drug overdoses DROPPED as a result of them decriminalizing/legalizing drugs. I am for ending drug prohibition for the following reasons: the number of murders, including police murdered, will go down a lot, petty theft will go down a lot, police will stop being paranoid every time they pull a car over… being afraid the person might shoot them, police and citizen relations will ease and relax, police will stop presenting themselves as officers occupying foreign territory/ will stop acting like Martial Law is in effect (yes, I am exaggerating I know, I am doing so to make a point), drug users will get better medical care which will cost taxpayers less money in the long run, drugs will be sold by pharmacies, where one will know exactly what drug they are buying and exactly what strength it is…preventing overdoses and bad trips, etc, less overdoses as narcan shots could be made available to everyone, particularly drug users of friends and family of drug users, we will save 2 TRILLION dollors over the next 40 years, police can focus on actual crime… like when there is a complaining victim making society safer, police will be able to respond more rapidly to dangerous situations (as they won’t be going through Johnny’s pockets looking for a pill which once found the gov’t will spend like 10K on police, courts,judges, lawyer, probation officer, people will have more freedom, society will be much, much safer as drugs will cost significantly less which means people won’t steal, do stick ups or home invastions to get money and goods to use to buy drugs (just like they don’t do these things to buy sigarettes as they are legal and therefore much cheaper despite being taxed up the wazoo, families won’t be ripped apart by putting people in cages…etc, etc

God Bless,

I think we need to make a distinction between decriminalizing the use of drugs vs. legalizing the use of drugs.

Decriminalizing drug use allows drug addicts to receive medical treatment and rehabilitation and stops punishing them with prison time. However, the manufacture, sale or distribution of drugs is still prosecuted.

Legalizing drugs would remove the restrictions on drug availability and could reasonably be expected to cause an increase in drug use. There is already data indicating that drug use in Portugal has risen as a result of decriminalization.

What you say about decriminalizing drugs is true. I also will not dispute what you say about drug legalization. It is my belief that everyone against drug legalization should have full disclosure as to the consequences the drug war produces. I do not think that the public in general understands what consequences come with drug prohibition/the drug war. And with decriminalization there are certain consequences that are removed upon small time users (I’m not sure what quantities are allowed to be carried, but I recall in Mexico it is often only a 1 days supply of drugs that can be carried, that is way too small of an ammt).

With decriminalizing and not legalizing the sales and manufacturing and transporting of drugs in anything but very small ammt’s subject those individuals to significant jail time if caught by law enforcement. Particularly with drug transportation the ‘mules’ are poor people who don’t even use drugs but are in desperate financial situations, such as someone having a daughter who has cancer and needs money for her medical care. Or just some very poor family where the parents struggle to put food on the table and clothe the family. These people, likely honest and hard working and not criminals are made into criminals for the time they are transporting drugs. And they face 10 years or so in prison when caught. This destroys their families.

And since illegal, the murdering will continue. No one can call law enforcement when a dispute arises so disputes are settled with guns and people are murdered, sometimes innocent bystanders. Also, since they can not call the police, this makes them high value targets for professional armed robbers (much better to rob a drug or drug money stash house than a bank as with the bank you get the FBI investigating you, people who live for chasing bad guys and specilize in that. With drug distributors, etc there is no investigation really. The robbers just need to get the drop on them and have their faces covered and get out of their sight. Sometimes during drug rrobberies the people are murdered as the idiots won’t cover their faces and choose to murder the drug holders as a way to keep their identity private.

With drugs being illegal the costs are significantly higher (importing coffee doesn’t land you in prison for 25 years to life) as people are risking their lives so a high premium is placed on the cost. Legalize and drugs become so cheap that everyone can afford them. You don’t see homeless alcholics robbing for a pint of booze or pack of cigarettes after all.

And since illegal the drugs can’t be insured which means all involved are hypervigilant, guns a ready. People get shot, people die. Legalize and it’s just like a pharmacy getting robbed…with the exception of the ‘street value’ of the drugs being a lot less than the street value of controlled substances at present, making robbing pharmacies less attractive.

There are others as well. I am sick of seeing gov’t grow, debt increase, 2 trillion spent on a war with the only noticible results being hundreds or thousands or tens of thousands of people murdered and some select drug kingpins who are comfortable ordering murders routinely getting rich. Law Enforcement being corrupted…

God Bless,

Translation from Portuguese ‘Suade’ article

[quote]Heroine consumption rose 57.5% in recent years

Method for combating drugs is ‘pure disinformation’ — APLD President

At variance with what official agencies have recently disclosed, the problem of drug dependence in Portugal has never been more serious: Between 2001, the year the decriminalization law went into effect, and 2007, continued consumption of narcotics rose, in absolute terms, by 66%.

In this period In this period consumption increased 215% for cocaine, 85% for ecstasy, 57.5% for heroine and 37% for cannabis… These data are from a report of the Institute of Drugs and Drug Dependence (IDT), published in 2008.

Since decriminalization there has been a 50% increase in drug use among young people between the ages of 20 and 24. On the other hand, the number of persons who have experimented with illicit drugs at least once rose from 7.8% in 2001 to 12% in 2007 (IDT Report of Activities of Nov 2008).

Full Portuguese language text:



Portuguese ex - IDT 2008 November Activities Report says 800000 people (7.8%) had tried illict drugs at lease once in 2001, that increased to 1.3 million (12) in 2007

Drugs: The Portuguese Fallacy and the Absurd Medicalization of Europe

There has been adverse effects to decriminalising marijuana in Netherlands


After marijuana use became legal, consumption nearly tripled among 18- to 20-year-olds. As awareness of the harm of marijuana grew, the number of cannabis coffeehouses in the Netherlands decreased 36 percent in six years.

Almost all Dutch towns have a cannabis policy, and 73 percent of them have a no-tolerance policy toward the coffeehouses.

In 1987 Swiss officials permitted drug use and sales in a Zurich park, which was soon dubbed Needle Park, and Switzerland became a magnet for drug users the world over. Within five years, the number of regular drug users at the park had reportedly swelled from a few hundred to 20,000.

The area around the park became crime-ridden to the point that the park had to be shut down and the experiment terminated.

Dutch Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport has said of

concern about drug and alcohol use among young people and the social consequences, which range from poor school performance and truancy to serious impairment, including brain damage

‘Coffee shops’ legally sell marijuana. Amsterdam has a larger police presence than in a comparize size cities in America said Ramon Bracomontes in an article in the El Paso Times

Decriminalising drugs has not stopped drug trafficking, Dutch health and justice ministers announced in 2011 tourists are going to be banned from Dutch ‘coffee shops’

In order to tackle the nuisance and criminality associated with coffee shops and drug trafficking, the open-door policy of coffee shops will end

And the reason there are no reports of positive results from deciminalization is of course because there were none. It couldn’t possibly be that the people responsible for the reports are against decriminalization, right?

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