Portugal’s radical decision to decriminalise all drugs

In the ’90s, Portugal was in the grip of a drugs crisis.

The country had one of the worst rates of overdose deaths in Europe, as well as the highest rate of HIV among drug users.

In response to this public health emergency, Portugal’s government set up a group of experts including doctors, psychiatrists and judges to come up with a nationwide strategy.

The committee proposed a raft of radical measures including the decriminalisation of all drugs for personal use.

In 2001 the new law came into force and overdoses, HIV infections and associated crimes have all dropped as a result.

Dr João Goulão, one of the architects of the drugs policy, spoke to Witness History about the success of the strategy.

Witness History

: The stories of our times told by the people who were there.

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