April 7, 2009
By Brian Vastag
From: Scientific American
5 Years After: Portugal's Drug Decriminalization Policy Shows Positive Results
Street drug related deaths from overdoses drop and the rate of HIV cases crashes!
In the face of a growing number of deaths and cases of HIV linked to drug abuse, the Portuguese government in 2001 tried a new tack to get a handle on the problem—it decriminalized the use and possession of heroin, cocaine, marijuana, LSD and other illicit street drugs. The theory: focusing on treatment and prevention instead of jailing users would decrease the number of deaths and infections.
Five years later, the number of deaths from street drug overdoses dropped from around 400 to 290 annually, and the number of new HIV cases caused by using dirty needles to inject heroin, cocaine and other illegal substances plummeted from nearly 1,400 in 2000 to about 400 in 2006, according to a report released recently by the Cato Institute, a Washington, D.C, libertarian think tank.
See Rachel Oswald's outstanding article: Portugal's drug decriminalization 'bizarrely underappreciated'
See the numerous world news bulletins now calling for drug reform:
Mass. voters OK decriminalization of marijuana
Argentine president calls for decriminalization of drug use
Canadian government tries anew to decriminalize marijuana
Bill introduced to overhaul America’s criminal justice system
Obama administration to stop raids on medical marijuana dispensers