Re: Help, Not Punishment – Portugal’s Controversial Drug Policies
In 2001, Portugal adopted some of the most liberal drug policies of the European Union. Since then, the authorities no longer pursue an expensive and basically unwinnable war on drugs. Instead, they pursue education, care, therapy and, above all, prevention. Likewise, the legal threshold quantities for personal possession are now among the highest in the world: one is permitted to carry up to 25 grams of cannabis, five grams of hashish, two grams of cocaine, or one gram of heroin.
Drug consumers are no longer seen as criminals, but as ill. The unique path taken by the Portuguese was initially met with fierce criticism, including that it would make the nation the catch basin for the junkies and criminals of all of Europe.
Now, in 2017, a different picture has emerged: drug use in Portugal has stagnated, and the number of drug deaths has declined. Nevertheless, Portugal’s liberal model remains controversial and contested.
Arte Re: shows how Portugal’s drug policies affect the everyday life of drug addicts and drug workers – and what they can achieve.