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Response to Manuel Pinto Coelho Re Portuguese Drug Decriminalisation

Response to Manuel Pinto Coelho Re Portuguese Drug Decriminalisation

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Published by PaulGallagher
Decriminalisation of Drugs in Portugal - the real, real facts! A look at the misinformation, intentional deception and hypocrisy of Manuel Pinto Coelho, using his own sources and others available at time of re-publication.
Decriminalisation of Drugs in Portugal - the real, real facts! A look at the misinformation, intentional deception and hypocrisy of Manuel Pinto Coelho, using his own sources and others available at time of re-publication.

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Published by: PaulGallagher on Feb 08, 2011
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01/29/2013

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Decriminalisation of Drugs in Portugal - the real, real facts!
A look at the misinformation, inten tional deception and hypocrisy of Manuel Pinto Coelho,using his own sources and ot hers available at time of re-pu blication 
Decriminalisation of drugs in Portugal - the real facts!was written by Manuel PintoCoelho
(Chairman of APLD - Association for a Drug Free Portugal and member ofInternational Task Force on Strategic Drug Policy) on February 2nd, 2010.It sounds like an interesting title. But, published on the World Forum Against Drugs it isimmediately disqualified from seriously being considered accurate. The WFAD is a bastionof opinionated, pseudoscientific, deceptive, ideological, inhumane and intellectuallyinsulting pieces. Whilst such rambling today needs a response, I await the day of IllicitDrug Policy
ʼ
s own version of
Scopie 
ʼ   
s Law 
. We shall revisit Scopie in a moment.The article was brought to my attention by Jo Baxter, E.O. of Drug Free Australia. Jo hadtaken issue with Director of Alcohol and Drug Service St. Vincent
ʼ
s Hospital, Sydney, AlexWodak's insightful piece "Agony over Ecstasy is helping no-one". It examined the arrest ofMatthew Chesher, a suddenly erstwhile official in the NSW government and hubby to statelevel minister Verity Firth, for purchasing an Ecstasy tablet. Recently returned from Lisbon,Wodak chose to reflect on Portugal
ʼ
s vastly different policy and how this would have talliedwith one decent man
ʼ
s desire for a recreational drug.Examination of Coelho
ʼ
s piece reveals his wide sweeping claims do not begin to deservethe confidence in which they are presented. Some can be shown as simply false. Other
ʼ
sare a clever misrepresentation, whilst at best he can rely upon some few negatives whichin no way support his accusations of manipulated numbers, “opposite” realities or adamning proof of Portugal
ʼ
s changed illicit drug legislation. Without defendingdecriminalisation itself, an examination of evidence shows Coelho to be in towering error.
Scopie's Law 
originated on the Bad Science forum thanks to Rich Scopie and states;"
In any discussion involving science or medicine, citing Whale.to as a credible source loses you the argument immediately ...and gets you laughed out of the room." 
In addition to
ʻ
whale.to
ʼ
it also includes "Answers in Genesis" to argue Creationism, or"Educate-yourself.org". With respect to
The World Forum Against Drugs 
, a strong casecan be made to include it also. At least in our busy world, and given the importance of drugpolicy, it seems we find ourselves faced with the need for an equally efficient device. Thisis entirely due to time wasting to stem from balderdash published there solely to convey anegative view - couched in phony "scientific" terms - of all manner of progressive policyinitiatives. Not least, illicit drug decriminalisation in Portugal, rejected by Drug Free,prohibition worshipping, anti-drug proponents who
also 
present archaic, retributive,harmful, brutal, right wing fringe notions as rosy.
 
The text of 
 
"Decriminalisation of drugs in Portugal - the real facts",
 
Manuel PintoCoelho
(Chairman of APLD - Association for a Drug Free Portugal and member ofInternational Task Force on Strategic Drug Policy)
 
- Feb. 2010, was also published in aslightly updated form in Replies to
 
Drug Decriminalisation in Portugal, October 2010, BMJ.He really shouldn't have
 
continued the farce. Because
three months prior 
the 2008 figureson Portugal were published, leaving him scant, if any pickings indeed.
Response to “Decriminalisation of Drugs in Portugal - the real facts!” by Manuel Pinto Coelho 
 
As usual without a cursory bibliography it is difficult to confirm or deny the context of suchsweeping statements, particularly as they are presented without trend orcomparison.
 
Citing the
 
European Observatory for Drugs and Drug Addiction 2007, anumber of claims are made. A quick search for the "Observatory" yields only the samearticles by Coelho, and indeed The European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and DrugAddiction.
 
The Observatory is mentioned in the
 
Nov. 2003 Congressional Record USA, Vol149, under "Intervention of the delegation of The Holy See", and a nice little reference toPope John Paul II. Perhaps he meant the EMCDDA. Either way, it does him no good.Some of his claims include;In 2006,
the total number of deaths
as a consequence of overdose did not diminishradically compared to 2000, nor did the percentage of drug addicts with AIDS decreasesignificantly (from 57% to 43%). The opposite occurred.
 
"The opposite occurred"? Page 48 of
 
EMCDDA 2006 data, gives us some clarity onchanging drug related death trends over time;
Data from the GMR (Selection B of the DRD Protocol) continue to indicate adecrease which started to take place from 1996 (114 cases) until 2005 (9cases). The number of cases implies that breakdown data on them ceased tobe available for statistics privacy reasons.Although acute drug-related deaths are not yet possible to identify amongstthe cases reported by the SMR, it has been possible to identify thepercentage of suspected acute drug-related deaths. In 2006, 216 cases withpositive
 post mortem
toxicological tests were reported by the SpecialRegister.A figure close to the one registered in 2005 (219) but an increase incomparison to previous years (156 on 2002, 152 in 2003 and 156 in 2004). 52%of the cases with positive toxicological tests and information on thepresumed aetiology of death were suspected to be acute drug-related deaths.This percentage, which decreased between 2000 and 2003, increased in 2004to 51% and again in 2005 to 58%, in comparison to previous years (44% in2003, 58% in 2002, 73% in 2001 and 72% in 2000) and decrease again in 2006.
Regarding HIV/AIDS page 52 offers;
Taking only 2006 notified cases, 37% of the AIDS cases, 28% of the AIDSrelated complex cases and 19% of the asymptomatic carriers cases weredrug use associated.This agains reinforces the decreasing trend, verified since 1998, in theabsolute numbers and percentage of drug users in the overall number of diagnosed AIDS cases, as seen in the graph below, despite the fact that, in
Response to “Decriminalisation of Drugs in Portugal - the real facts!” by Manuel Pinto Coelho 
 
2005, the infection by HIV was included in the national list of diseases whichimplies mandatory notification. 
EMCDDA 2006 DATA, PAGE 52 
Further reading of that page offers more clarity. The 2007 data report reads very closely.
 
Coelho continues;
 
Portugal faces a worrying deterioration of the drug situation. The facts prove "With 219
deaths from 'overdose'
per year, Portugal has one of the worst results, with one deathevery two days. Along with Greece, Austria and Finland, Portugal registered an increase ofdeaths by more than 30% in 2005 " and " Portugal remains the country with the highestincrease of
AIDS
as a result of injecting drugs (85 new cases per million residents in 2005,when the majority of countries do not surpass 5 cases per million).
 
Portugal is the onlycountry that recorded a recent increase, with 36 new cases estimated per million in 2005when in 2004 only 30 were registered" (European Observatory for Drugs and DrugAddiction 2007). The European report also confirmed that in 2006, Portugal had registered703 new cases of SIDA, which corresponds to a rate eight times higher than the Europeanaverage!It's a bit like screaming at surgeons in Causality as they begin to operate on a loved onebleeding to death from multiple injuries. "His B.P. is lower than when he arrived, he lostconsciousness not long after you touched him! Of the 27 people in here he's the worst!This is a hospital and he's not getting better -
why 
isn't he better? There's bloodeverywhere and I now have proof of bone fractures and swelling on the brain - which Ididn't have before I came
here 
!"What's truly devious about the tactics used by anti-drug campaigners is the cherry pickingof data. Despite having read, and quoted from, the World Drug Report 2009 our friend
Response to “Decriminalisation of Drugs in Portugal - the real facts!” by Manuel Pinto Coelho 

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