James Alexander Michie: Decriminalization of drugs in Portugal is not the key to its success in maintaining Europe’s lowest drug, alcohol and tobacco consumption rates | Vancouver Sun
Author: James Alexander Michie
Many foreigners are aware of the decriminalization of drugs in Portugal, however, they do not really understand that drugs are still illegal.
A fact that is reality is that almost every day, foreigners come to João Goulão who is the general director of drug policy of Portugal and the architect of his radical approach, which included the decriminalization of all drugs for personal use, with them to find a solution to the problems of drug addiction in their countries. Of those foreigners who have come to Goulão, mention may be made of philanthropist Richard Branson, Canadian Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould and, recently, an army of politicians and lawmakers from Norway. Luckily, the former family doctor has a significant patience which has allowed him to answer the same questions during a period of almost 20 years.
Likewise, due to Goulão’s interventions, now Portugal is fortunate to have one of the lowest drug, alcohol, and tobacco consumption rates in Europe at all ages, and the lowest rates of HIV / AIDS infection and hepatitis grouped with the use of injectable drugs. Similarly, in 2016, the number of deaths from the overdose was reduced to 26 from 40 the previous year.
Now, taking up the issue of knowledge that foreigners have about the laws of Portugal, is that all drugs for personal use are decriminalized. However, they are unaware that most of them do not understand is that all drugs, other than alcohol and tobacco, continue to be illegal.
However, Goulão points out that Portugal’s success is not due to decriminalization, in fact, it is because, in 2001, his nation made a commitment to provide what its citizens really need to stay healthy and in the same way stay committed. with society as possible.
On the other hand, the director general of drug policy of Portugal expressed “Decriminalization is not a silver bullet”, in addition, “If you decriminalize and do not do anything else, things will get worse” Added to that, he added, “The most important part was to make the treatment available to all who needed it for free. This was our first objective”.
It is necessary to clarify that Portugal instituted pathways to health that are not punitive and for this it was necessary to invest in treatment and recovery services and establish a network that connects citizens with what they need in a timely manner, be it outpatient counseling, time in a center of detoxification and even up to three years in a therapeutic recovery community.
Source: Daphne Bramham | Vancouver Sun