Decriminalised Portugal: Patients, not criminals

We have written about the effects of decriminalisation of drugs in Portugal before.

Al Jazeera has a new look at what has happened there and it is contrary to what all the doomsayers have told us.

In search of a solution to the growing drug crisis, a committee of judges, psychiatrists and scientists was formed. The committee had the radical idea to contemplate legalising all forms of drugs – from heroin to cannabis – which would open the possibility to start treating drug users as patients instead of criminals.

Goulao was one of the nine members of the committee.

“We started [from scratch] when developing our policy. But throughout the process, we always considered addiction as a health issue,” he explained to Al Jazeera. “To legalise drugs conflicted with the United Nations drug convention system, though, so we had to tone down our ideals.”

Portugal is one of the 106 states that signed into the UN drug convention in 1988, which aimed at promoting interaction between the countries to battle the international trade of drugs.

What came about was a plan to decriminalise all forms of drugs when the culprit is caught with a small amount, making possession only punishable under the administrative law – for example, by a fine instead of a prison sentence.

After the arrest, a clear distinction between the recreational and addictive use of drugs would be made. The recreational user receives the fine for using drugs in public, while the addict is encouraged to subscribe to a treatment programme, which is paid for by the government.   Read more »

Legal Highs go underground

What a complete mess this is turning into.  Take a bow Peter Dunne for trying to take the easy way out by avoiding debate about marijuana and giving the gangs a new product line to make an insane amount of profit on.

Synthetic cannabis has already infiltrated the underground drug market, a New Plymouth police sergeant says.

And the drugs will be sold in “tinnie houses” as soon as they are off the shelves, Sergeant Terry Johnson told the New Plymouth District Council last night.

“We have significant evidence that it’s got into the underground market already,” he said.

“And one retailer has 30 kilograms of it sitting in their shop, now what’s going to happen to that?”

Last night Parliament outlawed synthetic cannabis and the products will be off shop shelves by midnight tonight.

And no point stocking up if you want to do it legally – even possession will be illegal come midnight.  But that won’t be the immediate problem.

People going through withdrawal are.   Read more »