Drug policy of Portugal
In Portugal, there has been a shift towards treating drug use as a medical issue, rather than a crime.
Under new laws passed in 2001 drug dealers are still sent to prison, but anyone caught with less than a 10-day supply of any drug gets mandatory medical treatment, and no jail. A panel consisting of a lawyer, a medical professional and a social worker decide on the appropriate treatment, restrictions, and whether or not the user should receive a fine.
This reform has seen very impressive results, with Portugal’s drug-induced death rate plummeting to five times lower than the European Union average.
How could Australia benefit from implementing a similar policy?
Liberal MP Craig Kelly recently stated that if we were able to reduce the rate of drug deaths to be in line with Portugal (three deaths per million people), we would be able to save 1700 lives a year in Australia.
The Greens already support a move to the Portuguese model, and Labor MP Pat Conroy says he wants addiction treated more as a health issue.