San Francisco Anti-Opium Squad, 1898.

Dapper Men with Axes.

Also, Drugs in Portugal: Did Decriminalization Work?

In 2001, Portugal became the first European country to officially abolish all criminal penalties for personal possession of drugs, including marijuana, cocaine, heroin and methamphetamine. [...] Five years after personal possession was decriminalized, illegal drug use among teens in Portugal declined and rates of new HIV infections caused by sharing of dirty needles dropped, while the number of people seeking treatment for drug addiction more than doubled.

"Judging by every metric, decriminalization in Portugal has been a resounding success," says Glenn Greenwald, an attorney, author and fluent Portuguese speaker, who conducted the research. "It has enabled the Portuguese government to manage and control the drug problem far better than virtually every other Western country does."

Compared to the European Union and the U.S., Portugal's drug use numbers are impressive. Following decriminalization, Portugal had the lowest rate of lifetime marijuana use in people over 15 in the E.U.: 10%. The most comparable figure in America is in people over 12: 39.8%. Proportionally, more Americans have used cocaine than Portuguese have used marijuana.


2 Responses:

  1. pavel_lishin says:

    "Five years after personal possession was decriminalized, illegal drug use among teens in Portugal declined"

    I'm a little hazy on this sentence. Does that mean that while possession was no longer illegal, use was? Or is this just a really obvious tautology?

    • azrhey says:

      Decriminalize and legalize are not the same thing.

      From wikipedia: Individuals found in possession of small quantities of drugs are issued summons. The drugs are confiscated, and the suspect is interviewed by a dissuasion commission including a civil servant, a psychiatrist, and an attorney.[7][8] Based on the patterns of drug abuse, the individual may be subject to fines, therapy, or probation.[9]

      Drug trafficking remains illegal and is prosecuted.[7]