James Alexander Michie: Should Canada follow and apply the ‘Portugal model’? | CTV News
Author: James Alexander Michie
In 2001 Portugal took action and decriminalized both the possession and consumption of any type of drug, which frightened many because they feared that this nation would become “a paradise” for those who consumed such substances, despite this it was the case, in fact, Portugal has achieved big drops in overdoses with respect to drugs, in addition to HIV infections and likewise hepatitis infections. Added to this, in the course of 2000 to 2008, the nation had a significant decrease of 66% with respect to judicial cases related to drugs.
Several health officials, as well as politicians, have suggested to the federal government to take action as Portugal and also decriminalize the possession of any kind of drug alleging that a great example of success is Portugal, this suggestion is because from the next Wednesday will be legal the sale of recreational cannabis in Canada.
Notably, among those supporters who have urged the federal government to take such action, are the public health organizations in Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver, which suggest that the best way to combat the current opioid crisis, which caused the death of almost 4,000 Canadians last year, it is treating drugs as a health problem, not a crime.
However, for its part, the federal government expressed that it really is not interested in decriminalizing all drugs. Likewise, the prime minister pointed out that generalized decriminalization is not the way to deal with the opioid crisis.
It is important to mention that currently in Portugal drugs are still illegal, and in the same way the penal sanctions for traffickers and drug traffickers are still valid.
However, Portugal changed the law for drug users so that, instead of going to jail, they are automatically sent to counseling and offered access to treatment. Likewise, a “special deterrence commission” was established, a kind of drug court, with psychologists and social workers to distribute treatment or administrative fines to anyone caught with even a small amount of drugs.
In addition to this, a relevant fact is that the Portugal model also includes prevention. In Lisbon, a white van drives methadone every day to some 1,200 people. Many of these people are former addicts who describe deliveries as lifesavers.
Source: CTV News