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In Portugal, the war on drugs is being tackled with decriminalisation

2 Views· 09/13/22
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Winning the War on Drugs: Once the ‘heroin capital of Europe’, Portugal decriminalised drugs twenty years ago. While local drug networks still operate, the country’s radical approach has made progress in the war on drugs.

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In 2001, Portugal became the first country in the world to decriminalise drug use. 'Decriminalising isn't the same thing as regulating or legalising, decriminalising means that we no longer treat it as a criminal offense, but it's still an illegal activity', explains Nuno Capaz, a Portuguese official. The emphasis in the country is on rehabilitation: 'if they don't charge you, they don't arrest you, they help your treatment. They try to convince you to go on a treatment program', says Tiago, a long-term drug user. He's explaining 'the dissuasion commission': when caught with drugs over a certain quantity, users must meet with social and health workers. 'In the past [drug users] were seen as people that should be in jail like criminals. And now they are seen like people that need help', explains one social worker.

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SBS Australia – Ref. 8092

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