Guidelines for Implementing and Evaluating the Portuguese Drug Strategy

Guidelines for Implementing and Evaluating the Portuguese Drug Strategy

Guidelines for Implementing and Evaluating the Portuguese Drug Strategy

Guidelines for Implementing and Evaluating the Portuguese Drug Strategy

Synopsis

Implementation strategies for Portugal's new drug policy.

Excerpt

A government can choose from a large set of options for its drug policy. The options can be seen as points on a continuum, with total prohibition of all drugs on one end, and full legal freedom to sell and consume drugs on the other end; in between, distinctions between legalization and different forms of decriminalization (moving prohibition away from the criminal justice system) can be made, along with differentiation between providers and users, as well as “hard” and “soft” drugs.

Portugal moved back and forth on this scale, starting with legal drug use in the 1920s, shifting to prohibition of drugs use in the 1960s, followed by a gradual shift towards the legalization end of the continuum, resulting in the current situation of decriminalization of drug consumption.

After a brief discussion of the history of Portuguese drug policy, we discuss the turning point in policy-making and the resulting drug policy. We describe the Portuguese Drug Strategy, the principles underlying the Drug Strategy, and the current laws that relate to the Strategy. Finally, we relate the characteristics of the Portuguese Drug Strategy to the characteristics of drug policies of other European countries. Countries are compared using a number of key elements of drug policy.

2.2 Historic developments in the drug policy environment

1926–1979 Portugal’s first law regarding drug use dates from 1926 (Decree Law No. 12210) and was fully prohibitionist. Until this law, trafficking was a penal offence, but use of drugs was not against the law. This law continued in force throughout the totalitarian regime that ruled Portugal for over forty years in the middle of the twentieth century. During the 1960s, when the use of drugs increased in the majority of developed countries, Portugal suppressed drug usage compared to its incidence elsewhere in Europe. Although the use of narcotics and psychotropic drugs was very limited at that time, the Portuguese government organized its first anti-drug campaign in 1973. The slogan for that campaign was ‘drugs-madnessdeath’. In this period, use became a penal offence (Decree Law No. 420/70). After 1974, with freedom from totalitarianism, the drug phenomenon became more visible: use of cannabis among youth was reported, and prescription drugs were more freely available at pharmacies and frequently abused. In 1976, the Portuguese . . .

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