Portuguese Decriminalization Of Drugs


The United States has yet to decriminalize drugs, and as a result all those who are currently drug addicts are at serious risk of coming into contact with the criminal justice system.  If you live in Tennessee and are sick of the stress of this, you might think of going to Tennessee rehab.

At Tennessee rehab you will find yourself free of the worry of coming into contact with the police in a negative way.  Tennessee rehab will give you time to detox and reset.


The “war on drugs” has been happening in America since the late 60s, with the media popularizing the term following a press conference given by President Richard Nixon on June 18, 1971. The United States now spends $51 billion a year on tactics that it believes will successfully reduce the flow of drugs through eradication, interdiction and incarceration. What has this war on drugs accomplished? The United States has some of the highest rates of drug use in the world, an opioid epidemic which is leaving countless dead, and the highest rates of incarceration worldwide.

Not only this, but the US leading the way on “war on drugs” has caused a great many other countries to follow suite, as countries which have followed United States policy have often been treated with trade deals and other bonuses from the US.


In 2011, the Global Commission on Drug Policy released a report which stated that “the global war on drugs has failed, with devastating consequences for individuals and societies around the world. Fifty years and the initiation of the UN Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, and years after President Nixon launched the US government’s war on drugs, fundamental reforms in national and global drug control policies are urgently needed” So, what is the alternative? To give us an idea we can look to Portugal. In 2001, the country was facing massive problems due to rising heroin use across sections of society.

This drug use was leading to spikes in many social problems. It was then decided that the country would do something that was by some considered risky, and implement a policy of drug decriminalization. It is important that the distinction is made between decriminalization and legalization. Legalization is a policy in which drugs are no longer illegal, and the possession and sometimes sale of them is legal.

Decriminalization is slightly different in the sense that when drugs are decriminalized, they are not legal, but use or possession no longer carries with it the risk of coming into contact with the criminal justice system. Instead, the issue becomes an administrative issue. In Portugal, it was decided that in most cases the administration concerned with drug users was not necessary, so most of the time the fines which the Portuguese state can technically give are simply not given.


What was the results of this experiment? Fortunately for those interested, Portugal allowed data to be collected on what happened when they decriminalized drugs. The results were overwhelmingly positive. Rates of overdose went down, drug use fell in almost every category, new HIV cases plummeted and crime went down. Portugal managed this by not only decriminalizing drugs, but also by implementing programs that addressed addiction. This mean diverting funds that had previously been used in policing drug users to programs of drug treatment and education. Further needle exchange was also developed, with the aim of keeping rates of infectious diseases spread by needles down.

The future for the United States

Is it possible that the United States might be able to enact similar policies to those of Portugal? A couple of decades ago it seemed like a far distant dream that would likely never happen, but things have been changing recently. Since the turn of the millennium there has been a massive push to decriminalize cannabis across the United States.

There have also been states that have begun to legalize the use of psychedelic drugs. Even more encouraging for decriminalization advocates is Oregon becoming the first US state to decriminalize possession of hard drugs.

The intention for Oregon is to allow people who have been arrested with small amounts of hard drugs to avoid trial by paying a fine and attending a program of addiction recovery.

It will be interesting to see the data coming out of the program in the coming years. If the data proves that decriminalization in Oregon has been successful, we may see more states in the US following suite.

It must be noted though, that issue when we talk about drug policy is that often drug policy is not enacted because it is known to work, it is enacted because it is populist. For there to be concerted movement towards country-wide legalization, it will be useful to have backing from groups that have historically blocked legalization.

Are you thinking of rehab?  Nashville is a decent choice.  If you go to rehab, Nashville has an abundance of rehab centers where you can consider yourself out of the war on drugs.  Of course, while there are other cities in Tennessee where you can go to rehab, Nashville is one that you should consider.

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