Drug Decriminalisation in Portugal

Drug decriminalization in Portugal is a failure, despite various reports published recently all over the world saying the opposite.

There is a complete and absurd campaign of manipulation of Portuguese drug policy facts and figures, which some authors appear to have fallen for.

The number of new cases of HIV / AIDS and Hepatitis C in Portugal recorded among drug users is eight times the average found in other member states of the European Union.

“Portugal keeps on being the country with the most cases of injected drug related AIDS (85 new cases per one million of citizens in 2005, while the majority of other EU countries do not exceed 5 cases per million) and the only one registering a recent increase. 36 more cases per one million of citizens were estimated in 2005 comparatively to 2004, when only 30 were referred ” (EMCDDA – November 2007).

Since the implementation of decriminalization in Portugal, the number of homicides related to drug use has increased 40%. “Portugalwas the only European country to show a significant increase in homicides between 2001 and 2006.” (WDR – World Drug Report, 2009)

“With 219 deaths by drug ‘overdose’ a year,Portugal has one of the worst records, reporting more than one death every two days. Along with Greece,AustriaandFinland,Portugal is one of the countries that recorded an increase in drug overdose by over 30% in 2005”. (EMCDDA – November 2007)

The number of deceased individuals that tested positive results for drugs (314) at the Portuguese Institute of Forensic Medicine in 2007 registered a 45% raise climbing fiercely after 2006 (216). This represents the highest numbers since 2001 – roughly one death per day – therefore reinforcing the growth of the drug trend since 2005. (Portuguese IDT – November 2008)

“Behind Luxembourg,Portugalis the European country with the highest rate of consistent drug users and IV heroin dependents”. (Portuguese Drug Situation Annual Report, 2006)

Between 2001 and 2007, drug use increased 4.2%, while the percentage of people who have used drugs (at least once) in life, multiplied from 7.8% to 12%. The following statistics are reported:

  • Cannabis:       from 12.4% to 17%
  • Cocaine:        from 1.3% to 2.8%
  • Heroin:           from 0.7% to 1.1%
  • Ecstasy:        from 0.7% to 1.3%.

(Report of Portuguese IDT 2008)

“There remains a notorious growing consumption of cocaine in Portugal, although not as severe as that which is verifiable in Spain. The increase in consumption of cocaine is extremely problematic.” (Wolfgang Gotz, EMCDDA Director -Lisbon, May 2009)

“While amphetamines and cocaine consumption rates have doubled in Portugal, cocaine drug seizures have increased seven fold between 2001 and 2006, the sixth highest in the world”. (WDR – World Drug Report, June 2009)

“It is difficult to assess trends in intensive cannabis use in Europe, but among the countries that participated in both field trials between 2004 and 2007 (France,Spain,Ireland,Greece,Italy,Netherlands and Portugal), there was an average increase of approximately 20%”. (EMCDDA – November 2008)

The reality of Portuguese drug addiction seems to have been tampered with. The statistical results seem to have been manipulated by institutions controlled by the government.

The problem is serious and deserves consistent answers. The banner of “harm reduction” cannot be an ideology and an end in itself. It is extremely disturbing to promote the correct use of drugs “safely” (sic) integrating consumption into the habits (about 70% of Portuguese addicts scrutinized in the country are not in drug-free programs but in programs that, while called treatments, are actually “replacements” because these “treatments” substitute one drug for another) that is being made possible by public institutions (such as the Portuguese IDT), who submits with the support (sic) from the State, countless numbers of addicts to a life of dependency.

“Resounding success”? Glance at the results!

If facts are important, the Portuguese model is a mistake. The example of Czech Republic,Mexico and Argentina that adopted the sadly famous Portuguese drug decriminalization model should not be followed by anyone.

Manuel Pinto Coelho  (Chairman of APLD – Association for a Drug Free Portugal and member of International Task Force on Strategic Drug Policy)

Source: DrugWatchInternational. 31st October, 2011

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