Drug Decriminalization in Portugal

April 3, 2009

In 2001, Portugal began a remarkable policy experiment, decriminalizing all drugs, including cocaine and heroin. Some predicted disastrous results — that drug addiction rates would soar and the country would become a haven for “drug tourists.” Now that several years have passed, policy experts can study the results. In a new paper for the Cato Institute, attorney and author Glenn Greenwald closely examines the Portugal experiment and concludes that the doomsayers were wrong. There is now a widespread consensus in Portugal that decriminalization has been a success. The debate in Portugal has shifted rather dramatically to minor adjustments in the existing arrangement. There is no real debate about whether drugs should once again be criminalized. Join us for a discussion about Glenn Greenwald’s field research in Portugal and what lessons his findings may hold for drug policies in other countries.

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