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How Portugal Successfully Decriminalized Drugs

How did Portugal successfully decriminalize drugs? Since 2001, people who buy or have in the possession a 10-day personal supply of drugs will not be criminally prosecuted. The reason behind the legislation was the belief that because drug users feared going to jail, they would not reach out for help for their addiction. However, it is still illegal to sell or traffic drugs or to give them to minors or people with mental illness.

Since Portugal instituted this law, drug-related deaths have dropped, as has drug use overall, and those who went to drug treatment increased 147%. And 40,000 drug users are now in treatment as opposed to jail, which saves the government enormous amounts of money.

By 1998, about 60% of arrests for drug offenses in Portugal were for possession and use — most were not for sales of drugs, where the problem lay. Overcrowded jails and the price of incarceration versus treatment are just a couple of reasons why a country might consider decriminalizing drugs. Other motivations include increased availability of treatment and even a decrease in drug use. Portugal decriminalized drugs more than a decade ago; find out how the country has fared in its own tactics in the war on drugs.

Do you think this tactic would ever work in the United States or do we just have a different drug problem here? Should we decide to decriminalize drug possession and focus more on treatment than punishment? If you want to use this infographic on your site, simply copy and paste the code bellow into your own blog post.

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