Portugal Drug Policy Jordi Bernabea Farrus
Portugal Drug Policy

Should The US Decriminalize Drugs Like Portugal Did?

Drug Addiction and Crime Rates Drop Dramatically

Posted by:
Reginald Reefer on Friday Dec 2, 2016

Why we should legalize all drugs and how cannabis could be the substance that sets it in motion

Portugal has Decriminalized All Drugs, Should the US do the Same? from CannabisNet on Vimeo.


Some might call me a cannabis activist, and perhaps they are correct. However, I personally believe that all drugs should be legal or at the very least (decriminalized). While most people have no problem to accept the legality of cannabis due to its general safety, they tend to cringe at the notion of “legal heroin” or “legal crack”.


I’m sure there are many of you who instantly rejected this notion with, “Heroin is bad for you, it shouldn’t be legal!” and while I agree with the fact that consuming drugs like heroin, crack, meth and so forth aren’t ‘good for your health’, I also don’t believe that consuming any substance should be a ‘criminal act’.


We tolerate as a society many substances that aren’t good for your health such as alcohol and tobacco. Alcohol kills more people each year than all illegal drugs combined. Don’t even get me started on tobacco.


The question is, do we see the same negative effects of prohibition on the two legal substances? We don’t see territorial disputes when it comes to tobacco sales. These days, the illegal sale of alcohol is virtually non-existent and the violent past of alcohol prohibition is pretty much gone from the social equation.


When alcohol was illegal, violence ensued. Mobsters would gun down competitors because all means of dispute resolution was left to the black market. The black market does not have the ability to have lawyers represent their cases; they are left to their own devices, which in most cases resulted in spraying public spaces with bullets.


Since the legality of cannabis in several states in the US, we have seen a reduction of violence when it comes to cannabis sales. In fact, the kilo of cartel weed dropped from $90/kilo to roughly $35/kilo over the past few years meaning that the reduction of money had a direct impact on cartel activities. Of course, cartels also deal in other substances which brings me to my point.


The Problem with Unregulated Drugs


The first thing we need to understand is that unregulated drugs ‘can be dangerous’. You don’t know what is in the drugs or what they have been laced with. There is no quality assurance and this could potentially make the drugs themselves more dangerous for the consumer. 


Secondly, there is no standard in price. Typically, the illegal drug market base their prices on supply and demand however they can change the price as they please. There is no safety measures in place when it comes to sales. All of the income generated by the sale of illegal drugs also do not benefit society as a whole since cartels don’t pay taxes.


The list of problems with the unregulated sales of illegal drugs is vast. While prohibitionists argue that we can end the drug problem by merely “not consuming drugs”, they fail to accept the notion that we as humanity, will always consume drugs. Whether it’s legal or not, drug consumption is a natural human behavioral pattern and throughout history, we have found ways to intoxicate.


So if we cannot change human nature, perhaps it’s time we change the way we respond to it.


Cannabis the Catalyst


Right now, people are become more acceptant when it comes to cannabis legalization. In fact, most Americans are on board with total legalization. Especially now since 1 in five adults have access to legal cannabis.


Prohibitionists claimed that this would be the end of society, as we know it, however, we found that no apocalyptic scenario ensued post legalization.  Places like Portugal decriminalized all drugs, including heroin and crack and they saw a drastic reduction in violent crimes and a rise in the age median of drug addicts.  Since Portugal decriminalized all drugs, they have seen a 50% drop in drug addiction.  Portugal now has the lowest drug usage rate of any Western European country as well.


What this indicates is that when you stop treating drug consumption as “taboo” and actually implement inclusive drug policies, you’ll be able to more properly manage the negative effects of drug consumption.


What would happen if you could go to “drug dispensaries” and purchase LSD, or MDMA, or even Heroin?


Well, firstly if the program is set up that screens for quality, purity and so forth, the drugs themselves will be safer than the street alternative. Secondly, you could apply “vice taxes” on these substance (to a reasonable degree which allows for competition to the black market), you would be able to generate wealth on the consumption of drugs. Something that prohibition cannot provide.


The increase of tax revenue in turn could be funneled back to social programs to prevent addiction and educate the population on ‘proper drug use’.


You’d remove the criminal element of the drug trade, legitimizing it and providing jobs for millions of people around the world, whether in retail, production or distribution.


Cannabis has shown us that if we shift the model to a responsible, well-monitored system, you can eliminate a wealth of problems generated by prohibition.


Thus, I always argue that whether I agree with certain drugs or not, people should have the ultimate freedom to decide what they put in their bodies without the fear of being labeled as criminals.


Of course, we require a major shift in paradigm for this to work, however I believe cannabis will allow us to start moving towards this model. Perhaps it will take some time before people completely accept the fact that “humans like drugs”, but in the meanwhile, cannabis is laying the foundation for such a shift in paradigm. Organizations like MAPS are also opening the door for psychedelic research which could further allow us to move away from the oppressive model and “freedom-raping” system known as Prohibition.











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