Portugal decriminalised drugs

Portugal decriminalises drugs

If there is one thing that really pulls families apart in South Africa and all over the world, it is the misuse of drugs.

In Portugal, they have significantly found an interesting strategy that helped them combat the war on drugs. That strategy, seemed totally unorthodoxed, but surprisingly it worked. This was to decriminalise the use of drugs.

The aim was to work on integrating the drug users into society in the most natural way possible as opposed to isolating them.

Now, before one thinks that there is something wrong with decriminalising drugs, one has to understand that decriminalisation and legalisation are two different things.

Decriminalisation means the drug user would not be sentenced, but would rather appear before a panel which included a lawyer, doctor and psychologist. They would then pass sentence depending on the severity of the case. This could mean that the guilty party could be prescribed treatment, fined or set free. Those selling drugs would still face criminal charges.

Through this, Portugal was able to bring their annual drug arrests down from 14 000 to 6 000. They were also able to reduce the number of HIV infected residents. Before the law came into effect, more than half of HIV affected people were drug addicts. These days, that number has dropped to less than 20 percent.

Perhaps Patricia de Lille could learn a little something?

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