Drug Policies: Portugal vs Puerto Rico

Giangabriel Morales

Senior Project Mrs. Domenech Mrs. Pagan April 24, 2012

On the other hand. The first law to regulate the production. traffickers could be punished by two to eight years in prison. However. This is what drugs developed from. traffic and use of narcotics (Decree-Law 420/70) was approved in 1970. Before this radical change marked Portugal. It seems that society has forgotten all about our ancestor that would avidly experiment with different plants and concoctions to reach and enlightened spiritual state. was when Portugal decided to decriminalize drugs to benefit the welfare of their society. The concept of narcotic drugs was legally defined and personal possession offences would be punished with up to two years imprisonment. Consumption causing danger or encouraging others to consume would be punished by six months to two years in prison or by a fine. nonetheless. by only reading a Puerto Rican newspaper you can see that this society needs change. The usage of drugs was also a human instinct to heal. In Puerto Rico the policy on drugs is tantamount to illegality. Today‟s modern society has outlawed the use of any recreational drug because of fallacious reasons. Portugal‟s drug policy was drafted and put into action over 10 years ago.The concept of drug use has been irreparably damaged into something negative in our society today. The turning point. illegality has shown a set of serious flaws. Implementing Portugal‟s liberal drug policy in our Puerto Rican society could benefit the welfare of its inhabitants. it was just another country with drug problems. These same flaws were apparent to Portugal. The first changes were made to Portuguese drug policy following the . Most of the criminality today in Puerto Rico is due to trafficking of drugs and other drug related problems. providing the legal framework for the criminalization of drug use. According to the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction. in the 1970‟s drug use became visible as a health problem and what can be considered Portugal‟s first modern drug policy was created while the country was still under an authoritarian government.

It is now that Portugal began to look for other options besides criminal penalty. the problematic drug in Portugal had become heroin and the heavy increase in drug trafficking. thus retaining its status as a crime. this framework also increased the repressive focus on drug trafficking. which was associated with the idea of new-found freedoms. It maintained that the use of illicit drugs was „socially condemnable‟. The response to drug use would thus move from a criminal penalty model towards clinical treatment and the qualification of the drug user as a patient and not as a criminal (EMCDDA 11) The steps taken slowly built the basis for new improvements. stating that the priority was to treat and not to punish (EMCDDA 11) After 1987. The Ministry of Justice. However. the primary issue addressed was “whether drug use should be considered primarily as a crime or whether a medical-psychosocial approach should be promoted. Organization like Projecto VIDA surged in hope to create a new drug policy development. the law recognized the drug user as a patient in need of medical care.democratic revolution of 1974. Furthermore. but mainly from the conviction that introducing changes in . These improvements adopted the national legal framework to the 1971 UN Convention on Psychotropic Substances (which Portugal had ratified in 1979). who introduced these laws stated: “The option to criminalize drug use does not stem from a clear strategy which considers this as the only possible solution. (10) As the policy underwent changes. when there was a sudden increase in experimentation with drugs.” (EMCDDA 12) The point of these laws was to not marginalize the occasional users. in 1993 a new drug law was adopted that “maintained the criminalization of drug use but developed a specific approach to it.

as this one. which embody a set of values that should guide interventions in this area.such complex areas. is only justifiable if the available data are reliable enough to demonstrate that the new system is clearly better than the one traditionally adopted. The Ministries of Justice and Health appointed a commission to draft up a new drug policy. with these changes.” (EMCDDA 12) As the new drug laws began to get adopted. this was policy that brought forth decriminalization. „Humanism‟. while „Participation‟ calls for the involvement of the community in drug policy definition and implementation. All these changes propelled the drug policy into success. Projecto VIDA and the offices of Ministry of Justice merged to form the Portuguese Institute on Drugs and Drug Addiction (IPDT). The following is the approach that was taken: “The Parliamentary Committee on Drugs unanimously approved the report and.” (EMCDDA 15) The new policy came into effect in 2001. is the recognition of the inalienable human dignity of citizens. which became the 1999 National Strategy for the Fight Against Drugs (Portuguese Government. It wasn‟t only the . many members of all political parties expressed their concern regarding the increasing drug problem in the country. 1999). (EMCDDA 13) When the drug problem in Portugal progressed they saw that the best solution was to decriminalize personal drug use. „Pragmatism‟ calls for the adoption of solutions and interventions that are based on scientific knowledge. This strategy specifies eight principles. including drug users. and translates into a commitment to offer a wide range of services to those in need and to adopt a legal framework that causes no harm to them. the Council of Ministers formally approved its content. They questioned the criminalization of drug use and called for a wider policy consensus that would allow for a truly national strategy to be agreed upon and implemented. for example. one year later. It remains the foundation of today‟s drug policy in Portugal.

based on several data collections focusing on the implementation of the policy and its perception by stakeholders (including drug users). on 21 June 2001. and implementation of the new decriminalization framework was also progressing. 2007). as well as drop-in centers for drug addicts. The money that Portugal used to spend in the judicial branch had been reinvested into the Ministry of Health and has made the following possible: “A new legal basis for harm reduction measures was also adopted. The evaluators concluded. that progress had been made in developing services for drug users in general. it is a deep rooted plan which actualizes the drug user as a person who needs medical treatment (if necessary) and breaks down the mentality of the marginalized criminal. but in 2002 the IPDT was moved into the Ministry of Health. in the form of Decree-law 183/2001. programs for supervised drug use (though none was set up). They combined the organization with the department in charge of drug abuse. This comprehensive law regulates harm reduction interventions overall. syringe exchange schemes. (EMCDDA 16) Portugal‟s new plans and policies weren‟t superficial patches to cover up the problems in their society. low-threshold substitution programs (methadone and buprenorphine).. “In 2004 external evaluators were contracted to assess the policy developments that had occurred over the period 1999–2003 (Moreira et al. refuges and shelters. contact and information units and street workers. mobile centers for the prevention of infectious diseases.decriminalization that helped society. but Portugal‟s “radical” new policy has helped its society leap into progression. with the development of the new Commissions for the Dissuasion of Drug Abuse” (EMCDDA 18) . prevention and treatment and renamed it the Institute on Drugs and Drug Addiction (IDT). The steps taken to improve the drug situation in Portugal have been successful.” (EMCDDA18) The progress of a society is never-ending.

Portugal‟s situation is comparable to Puerto Rico‟s not only because of the drug problem in the society. Puerto Rico has a much different approach to their current drug situation. remains classified as a drug without acceptable medical use and its use carries prison terms in PR and 37 states of the North American Union. popularly known as . is marketed freely and the advertising industry encourages consumption using messages that evoke symptoms of abuse and dependence. can lead to dependence. alcohol. society is falling into an abyss and they don‟t want to build a staircase to get back up. West and North Africa. which is awarded minimal adverse effects. The 3. The tobacco. it is associated with 440. Both countries are ports. This is similar to Puerto Rico‟s geographical location. it must be dangerous. “The prohibition of some drugs and legality of others do not respond to the knowledge of the determinants of the harms associated with its use. However. marijuana. The inactivity of the judicial branch and the prolix laws used today simply don‟t work. Puerto Rico is slipping into state of condemnation and nothing is being done to prevent this slipping. By contrast. but because of localization.4 methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA).000 deaths in the United States annually and about 157 billion annually in economic losses related to health. However. The flaw lies in society. alcohol is the drug for recreational use that is more associated with violence and aggression. make it an entry point into Europe for drugs such as cocaine and cannabis” (EMCDDA 20). nicotine.A has actually worsened the drug situation in Puerto Rico. a drug that was demonized during prohibition. In fact. a legal drug whose active ingredient. “Portugal‟s geographic location and ties to drug producing or transiting regions such as South America.S. Puerto Rico is in route to becoming a narcostate and no apparent change is taking place. the current drug policy used in U. The predominant circular thinking is that if a drug is illegal. At present.

with its insistence on total abstinence. convinced by the opinion of medical experts. the administrative judge ruled the agency itself otherwise. Consistently. guaranteed in the Constitution of PR.8) The government keeps feeding the youth lies that end up promoting drug instead of preventing the usage. These beliefs support the zero tolerance. These results have not prevented the persistence in continuing use. Albizu-García 8) Not only does the current system alienate the youth. The premise that all illegal drug use results in pathological behavior. society insist on perpetuating the myth that marijuana use leads inevitably to the use of cocaine or heroin. Despite evidence to the contrary. deviant or dangerous fundaments programs implemented in schools advertising drug prevention with federal funds. the results demonstrate the absence of program effectiveness in both short and long term. “The prevention program widely popular throughout schools in the U. They choose to use misinformation and exaggeration to support prevention programs that are not credible by the young people who are targeted because their experiences are not consistent with the messages of adults.” (SantiagoNegrón.S and PR the Drug Abuse Resistance Education (DARE) has been subjected to multiple assessments. “The stigmatization of addicts facilitates some models of “rehabilitation” with impunity to violate the privacy rights of drug addicts.Ecstasy. Albizu-García 7.” (Santiago-Negrón. by requiring them to publish their problematic use of illegal drugs by wearing clothes that identify them as participants in . was appointed in 1984 by the director of the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) as a potentially dangerous drug without medical use although. it also victimizes the addict.

. Don‟t market drug usage as an automatic crucifixion. a world rid of vices. Let‟s not treat the addicts as criminals and waste their time in jail. The idea of that utopia will never be tangible. Drug dependence is the only disease which PR tolerates this gross violation of human dignity.” (Santiago-Negrón. Decriminalize/Medicate/Legalize 2012. let‟s reinstate him into society and try to make a better person out of them. The implementation of Portugal‟s drug policy in our culture could garner benefits unseen before. Our society is in a state of decadence and they are solutions. we are blind and paralytic before change. Puerto Rico could try to forget about its atrocious politics long enough to actually worry about the welfare of its inhabitants. Society must make do with what it has. The idea of a drug free world sounds benevolent. only virtues. but the reality is that one cannot exist without the other.treatment programs while circulating the community.12) The absurdity of society shrouds it from the possibilities. Albizu-García 11. instead educate the youth with real facts.

and Gisela Negron Velasquez. Guerra contra las drogas o guerra contra la salud? Los retos para la salud publica de la politica de drogas de Puerto Rico European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction. Morgan JP. and Salvador Santiago Negron.3(1-2):83-97 U. Albizu-Garcia. 1993. Carmen E. Education. Zimmer L. "Reconsiderando la politica de las drogas: Alternativas para Puerto Rico desde un modelo de salud publica. 1993." (2006): 1071-2006. "Portugal. Prohibition‟s Second Failure: The Quest for a Rational and Humane Drug Policy. Objectives for the nation: alcohol and drug abuse. Persuasión o Coerción? Ciencias de la Conducta. Government Printing Office. and Angel Gonzalez. Department of Health. and Salvador Santiago-Negron. The Lindesmith Center.Y. . Wesport. Los Medios de Difusión y los Anuncios de Cigarrillos y Alcohol: ¿Información.S. N. Marijuana Facts: A Review of the Scientific Evidence.1979." Drug Policy Profiles (2011): Santiago-Negrón S. DC: U. 1997.S. Marijuana Myths. and Welfare: Preventing disease/promoting health. Washington. Carmen E. Praeger.Work Cited Albizu-Garcia. Connecticut. Vallance T R.

Sign up to vote on this title
UsefulNot useful