Portugal and Holland liberalize drug policies

Press Release from the Drug Policy Foundation
In July, Portugal and the Netherlands enacted legislation that dramatically change their country’s drug policies. The Portugal Parliament, following the example of Spain and Italy, decriminalized all drug use, including the use of heroin. In the Netherlands, the Parliament narrowly approved legislation to allow regulated marijuana cultivation.

Under the new law in Portugal, drug users will no longer face prison terms for the mere possession or use of an illegal drug. Instead, drug users will be treated as sick people with police reporting drug users to local authority commissions who will ensure that addicts seek treatment.

“The idea is to get away from punishment towards treatment,” said Carlos Borges, a government policy spokesman. “We consider a drug-dependent person to be sick, not a criminal.” Previously, drug users and anyone caught possessing illegal drugs for personal use faced up to one year in prison.

In an effort to curb prohibition-related crime and reduce the illegal export of marijuana, the Netherlands passed legislation allowing the government to legalize, license, and regulate the cultivation of marijuana. Previously, coffee shops in the Netherlands were permitted to openly sell marijuana and hash, but it was a crime to grow marijuana.

“One of the main objectives is to fight crime,” said Labor Party parliamentarian Thanasis Apostolou, who drafted the resolution. “By regulating the supply we would know who is selling what and where it is going.”