Time Magazine Examines Drug Decrim in Portugal
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Time Magazine Examines Drug Decrim in Portugal
Posted by CN Staff on April 26, 2009 at 06:56:34 PT
By Glenn Greenwald
Source: Salon
World -- The report I wrote for, and last month presented at, the Cato Institute on the success of full-scale drug decriminalization in Portugal spawned a fair amount of media discussion -- in places such as Scientific American, The Wall St. Journal, The Vancouver Sun and many others -- but now, rather amazingly, Time Magazine has published a new article, by Maia Szalavitz, that substantively and impressively examines the report and its implications.
URL: Though the headline -- "The Portuguese Experiment: Did Legalizing Drugs Work?" -- is inaccurate (Portugal decriminalized, not legalized, drugs), the article itself (which Time is promoting with a fair amount of prominence) provides an excellent discussion of the unambiguous success of drug decriminalization and the impact which those findings ought to have on our own drug policy debates:URL:,8599,1893946,00.htmlThe paper, published by Cato in April, found that in the five years after personal possession was decriminalized, illegal drug use among teens in Portugal declined and rates of new HIV infections caused by sharing of dirty needles dropped, while the number of people seeking treatment for drug addiction more than doubled."Judging by every metric, decriminalization in Portugal has been a resounding success," says Glenn Greenwald, an attorney, author and fluent Portuguese speaker, who conducted the research. "It has enabled the Portuguese government to manage and control the drug problem far better than virtually every other Western country does."Compared to the European Union and the U.S., Portugal's drug use numbers are impressive. Following decriminalization, Portugal had the lowest rate of lifetime marijuana use in people over 15 in the E.U.: 10%. The most comparable figure in America is in people over 12: 39.8%. Proportionally, more Americans have used cocaine than Portuguese have used marijuana.The Cato paper reports that between 2001 and 2006 in Portugal, rates of lifetime use of any illegal drug among seventh through ninth graders fell from 14.1% to 10.6%; drug use in older teens also declined. Lifetime heroin use among 16-to-18-year-olds fell from 2.5% to 1.8% (although there was a slight increase in marijuana use in that age group). New HIV infections in drug users fell by 17% between 1999 and 2003, and deaths related to heroin and similar drugs were cut by more than half. In addition, the number of people on methadone and buprenorphine treatment for drug addiction rose to 14,877 from 6,040, after decriminalization, and money saved on enforcement allowed for increased funding of drug-free treatment as well.Portugal's case study is of some interest to lawmakers in the U.S., confronted now with the violent overflow of escalating drug gang wars in Mexico. The U.S. has long championed a hard-line drug policy, supporting only international agreements that enforce drug prohibition and imposing on its citizens some of the world's harshest penalties for drug possession and sales. Yet America has the highest rates of cocaine and marijuana use in the world, and while most of the E.U. (including Holland) has more liberal drug laws than the U.S., it also has less drug use.Those are just facts. After citing numerous recent events that indicate that a re-examination of our own drug policies is more possible than ever before (including the move in many states to legalize marijuana and the recent criminal justice reform bill introduced by Sen. Jim Webb), the Time article emphasizes the primary impact that the Portugal report ought to have:At the Cato Institute in early April, Greenwald contended that a major problem with most American drug policy debate is that it's based on "speculation and fear mongering," rather than empirical evidence on the effects of more lenient drug policies. In Portugal, the effect was to neutralize what had become the country's number one public health problem, he says."The impact in the life of families and our society is much lower than it was before decriminalization," says Joao Castel-Branco Goulao, Portugal's "drug czar" and president of the Institute on Drugs and Drug Addiction, adding that police are now able to re-focus on tracking much higher level dealers and larger quantities of drugs. . . .The Cato report's author, Greenwald, hews to the first point: that the data shows that decriminalization does not result in increased drug use. Since that is what concerns the public and policymakers most about decriminalization, he says, "that is the central concession that will transform the debate."Few political orthodoxies have more of a destructive impact than our approach to drug policy. Harsh criminalization schemes result in the imprisonment of hundreds of thousands of American citizens, breaks up families, burns tens of billions of dollars every year, erodes civil liberties, turns our police forces into para-military units, and spawns massive levels of violence and criminality -- all while exacerbating the very harms it seeks to address. If a measured, substantive debate over America's extremist drug policies can take place in Time Magazine, then it can take place anywhere.Source: Salon (US Web)Author: Glenn GreenwaldPublished: April 26, 2009Copyright: 2009 SalonWebsite: readermail salon.comURL: Justice Archives
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Comment #12 posted by The GCW on April 26, 2009 at 23:13:10 PT
Cannabis is not a drug
US CO: Column: A Sensible Halfway Stop to Decriminalizing Portuguese study is being mentioned in the Denver Post.It is being used to suggest drug decriminalizaiton; not RE-legalization.Perhaps drug decriminalization is appropriate, but as far as cannabis is concerned, the plant needs to be complete RE-legalized. Cannabis is not a drug; it's a plant; hold some in Your hand and see.-0-Of course, decrim and all it's talk is a move forward compared to what We've heard in the past...Today it is a lot harder to say bad things about cannabis; the truth is spreading well.
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Comment #11 posted by FoM on April 26, 2009 at 15:46:54 PT
It's really great to hear you are having a good time. Enjoy!
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Comment #10 posted by HempWorld on April 26, 2009 at 10:56:12 PT
 am a Dutchie, and this is a good article! Peace 
FoM and Hope (et. al.)!Author: Chase Gunnell, The Daily EvergreenLEARN FROM DUTCH DRUG POLICY Decriminalizing Marijuana May Work Better Than the War on Drugs AMSTERDAM -- This isn't a column filled with cliches about Amsterdam's infamous drug culture, nor is it an account of the greatness of legally buying marijuana. Not wanting to add any skeletons to the closet of a future political career, I'll leave my personal experiences on the sidelines for this one. But during my visit to Amsterdam, I hoped to use this column as an inquiry into how the relaxed Dutch laws have provided a progressive solution to the problem of drug use and trafficking. Amid America's vastly ineffective War on Drugs, the discussion of legalizing and taxing marijuana for revenue in several states and Mexico's bloody drug battles spilling across our border, it's a topic the U.S. can no longer afford to ignore. First, a simple overview of Amsterdam's soft drug laws: For customers who are at least 18, possession of less than 25 grams of marijuana or hashish is decriminalized, but these products can only be consumed in specially licensed 'coffee shops.' Unlicensed sale or trafficking of cannabis products is prohibited. Additionally, coffee shops may only keep a limited supply on hand at any time and cannot openly advertise their drugs. Hard drugs, such as cocaine, heroin, and recently, hallucinogenic mushrooms, remain illegal and heavily punished. Amsterdam's marijuana laws are by no means straightforward, but rooted in the ideas that adults can decide for themselves the choices of their own health, and that simple prohibition is not an answer to society's woes. Instead, they have provided tangible results. And positive results are something America's drug policy is sorely lacking. Walk into The Bulldog, Amsterdam's first marijuana cafe, and you will see people lighting up everywhere, at tables with friends, at the bar with a newspaper and coffee. But you won't see marijuana advertised. The drug menu is on the counter behind a black screen, only to be revealed at the push of a button by those in the know. One of the highest priorities of the country's policy on soft drugs is to limit their visibility and nuisance to the general population. By shepherding cannabis consumers into designated cafes and outlawing advertising, those who choose to get high can be left to do so without disturbing those who'd prefer to refrain. The concept of checking IDs seems unknown in Europe. I've seen girls who look to be 16 drinking in bars all over the continent. But upon entering any of Amsterdam's smoking parlors, be sure to have ID ready as patrons are regularly carded. This practice of working to prevent minors from smoking goes hand-in-hand with another success in Dutch drug policy - significantly lower percentages of users. A 1999 study by the University of Amsterdam found that only 15.6 percent of Dutch people age 12 and up had tried marijuana, compared to 32.9 percent of Americans. At first glance, it wouldn't seem that decriminalizing a drug would lead to a decline in use, but in regulating marijuana, taxing and making it harder for minors to reach, that's exactly what the Dutch have successfully done. Whether you've chosen to steer clear of drugs, or you spent Monday's 4/20 as high as a kite, it's widely apparent that America's drug war is not working. Like alcohol before it, prohibition is an utter failure. It's time to rethink our country's marijuana policies. The demand for the drug needs to be taken away from violent cartels and the supply out of the hands of children. And those responsible adults who choose to indulge should have regulated and taxed means to do so, just like alcohol or tobacco. Immediate and outright legalization may not be the answer, but America's marijuana laws could take some serious advice from the Dutch. On a mission from God!
On a mission from God!
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Comment #9 posted by kaptinemo on April 26, 2009 at 10:22:00 PT:
More proofs of the economy's power to decide
social issues:Many Contra Costa crooks won't be prosecuted, I take exception to the idea that cannabists are a priori crooks. (If you steal power to grow your weed, however, you are one. Whether Uncle does it, or we do it, its' still theft.)But this article is showing what's happening down at the lowest levels of civil government. A pattern which will continue to spread and expand, inexorably. And one which is forcing the long awaited public debate on drug prohibition into the pol's well as the public's. And it is there where the DrugWarriors are at their most vulnerable. Because when Joe Sixpack learns he's been laid off, and is having to scramble to take care of his family, and sees some stuffed suit yammering on the Tube about why he needs Joe's hard earned tax dollars to keep his kids 'safe from druuuuuugs' when Joe needs the moolah for feeding and housing those kids, well, can anyone blame Joe if he starts thinking about those 'pitchforks' he hears other people on the Tube talking about?Indeed, pitchforks, tar baths and feather rinses could become quite popular again, if this government doesn't start buckling down and attending to what counts to the people who pay the bills. And a sure sign of government acquiring fiscal 'religion' would be to end the DrugWar. Can ya say, "Amen!" brothers and sisters in Congress?It's either that, or "Thou art anathema! Begone from this place!" and we'll find replacements whose fiscal faith isn't lip service. They have a do we...
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Comment #8 posted by runruff on April 26, 2009 at 09:57:11 PT
* shut down the Drug Enforcement Administration.
Nixon drank alcohol all day everyday! Some days he was described as a raving maniac! Only a drunken, raving maniac could see a need for an Amerikan Gestapo in a "free" country! Only in a corporate controlled Amerika could this be allowed!The DEA is a fowl, disturbing blotch on our nation!As a mindset goes, any American whosoever supports the DEA is not constitutional or freedom thinking. Nixon created a selective police state!
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Comment #7 posted by Had Enough on April 26, 2009 at 09:45:39 PT
This is from the Cato was also in the Handbook for the 109th Congress.As you can see...they have been at it for a while...but congress won't listen!!!************Congress should* repeal the Controlled Substances Act of 1970,* repeal the federal mandatory minimum sentences and the federal sentencing guidelines,* direct the administration not to interfere with the implementation
of state initiatives that allow for the medical use of marijuana, and* shut down the Drug Enforcement Administration.Click to see...************Equal with lettuce, tomatoes, almonds and walnuts...Free the weed...clean the streets...
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Comment #6 posted by Dankhank on April 26, 2009 at 09:44:36 PT
Jazzfest ......
yea ... that 's it ... :-)
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Comment #5 posted by Dankhank on April 26, 2009 at 09:43:28 PT
Hi from Jassfest
Having a great time here with old, we're all old, Army Buddies.Jassfest is mellow, and full of all kinds of music.Joe Cocker, Ja;mes Taylor, Pete Seeger, Booker T, and a host of other lesser know acts that ALL rock out live in NO.THIS IS SUCH a GREAT story .....
Hey ..
NOW IS THE TIME ... yes?
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Comment #4 posted by kaptinemo on April 26, 2009 at 09:28:56 PT:
Yes, and it got started in places like this
At the risk of seeming like I'm beating my own drum, I've noticed that that things that I have written at reform sites in just the past month and a half have been repeated, again and again, in the some cases, using the exact same phraseology, such as the declaration that NOW IS THE TIME when referring to the advisability for having the long-deferred national debate. It's not just our opponents who have been coming here.We are being read, here and in other places, by that same MSM.This is no accident. It was drug law reformers, writing here and elsewhere, who predicted that when the economy would take the inevitable severe downturn that is has, there would be 'reputable' voices calling for an evaluation of the DrugWar...and here they are, just as predicted. (Not bad for a bunch of supposedly brain-dead stoners; a pity our super-expensively salaried Gub'mint officials couldn't figure out such basic economic principles as we live with every day, or we wouldn't be in the mess we're in.) We predicted it, and it has 'come to pass'. It didn't take rocket science or crystal balls, just common sense...which seems to have been lacking of late these past 8 years. Common sense...from people whom society had largely marginalized...warning about the dangers to that society that has largely shut us out. The irony is cold comfort...but at least now, we're being heard, and our point is being made - if only by proxy. For the MSM still can't bring itself to admit it dirtied its' eyes looking in places like this.That's okay, for when drug prohibition finally falls, and the history of that fall is written, places like this will shine on in memory, and the truth will be immortalized in the pages of that history.A truth first spoken in places like this... 
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Comment #3 posted by HempWorld on April 26, 2009 at 09:17:55 PT
I still find it rather startling, that humans, whe
n descending into politics, seem to be unaware of THE FACTS and continue to make statements that do not bear on reality!Public health problem number one? Now that would be cigarettes. However most politicians (world-wide) do not seem to acknowledge this FACT.In the below link you can see who is the greatest killer of any western society; cigarettes!
US Mortality Stats Here!
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Comment #2 posted by runruff on April 26, 2009 at 08:54:24 PT
Puff the Magic Drag-on!
One year ago I went to an Indian drum circle and heard Chief Willy White Feather. He told us very clearly what to expect in the next year and what he predicted has come true. A new consciousness is overtaking the planet. I call it the age of commonsense, truth and reason, with a new and enlightened leader. Mr. Obama is not perfect he just happens to be one of the few human beings who could fill this roll at this time.In their reluctance to go against their corporate mentors, the MSM held out from telling the truth up until it becomes so obvious that they are peddling false info, even their best spin doctors can no longer cloud the issue without looking more stupid than the average man. The cat is out of the bag!We need to rid ourselves of the Amerikan Gestapo created by the second worst prez ever to disgrace our highest office. With whatever it may feel comfortable for you to say, please drop a disparaging word on the worst, most unconstitutional, Un-American agency ever created. In fact this agency is so evil it is to Nixon what Rosemary's Baby was to her. It will take a national exorcism to flush this evil, murdering, torturing, life destroying entity. I live for the day. "Let all the poisons lurking in the mud hatch out!"-Emperor Claudius 
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Comment #1 posted by John Tyler on April 26, 2009 at 08:03:48 PT
positive PR
We are getting a lot of positive PR in the media lately. For decades they were against our position, Iím glad they are finally changing their tune.
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