Pubdate: Mon, 27 Apr 2009
Source: Tribune Review (Pittsburgh, PA)
Copyright: 2009 Tribune-Review Publishing Co.


Portugal's success with decriminalization, which makes starkly obvious
the abject failure of America's war on drugs, should be a model for
U.S. reform.

Portugal decriminalized all drugs, even cocaine and heroin, in 2001.
Drug trafficking remains a crime but possession and use of small
amounts are administrative violations, not crimes, with the emphasis
on prevention and treatment.

As detailed by Glenn Greenwald in a new Cato Institute (
white paper, Portugal has remedied societal ills that stem from
handling drug users as criminals while avoiding pitfalls predicted by
drug-war advocates.

Since 2001, annual overdose deaths have fallen from about 400 to 290.
New HIV cases related to injecting drugs have fallen from about 1,400
in 2000 to about 400 in 2006. Drug usage hasn't spiked, Lisbon hasn't
become a "drug tourist" magnet and by almost every measure, the drug
situation in Portugal is better than it is in other European nations
that still criminalize personal usage.

Former Seattle Police Chief Gil Kerlikowske, President Obama's choice
to head the White House's Office of National Drug Control Policy, has
spoken of emphasizing prevention and treatment but should go further
once he's confirmed by the Senate. He should use Portugal as a
powerful example in urging an end to the U.S. drug war that's a losing
effort for all concerned. 
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MAP posted-by: Richard Lake