In Portugal all drugs are decriminalized and it’s been this way for fourteen years. After decades of being notoriously infamous for its high levels of overdose rates, as well as HIV/AIDS, it now has the second lowest number of drug-related deaths in all of Europe.
Other countries are beginning to take notice of Portugal’s success, with Ireland being the next to consider a change in legislation. The argument is that drug abuse should be dealt with as a public health issue rather than a criminal act.
Minister of State for the National Drugs Strategy, Aodhán Ó Ríordáin, led
a discussion in Dublin on a possible switch towards a drug policy that was more like that of Portugal’s. An unplanned stoner reference was mentioned during the meeting when Mr Ó Ríordáin made a comment about the amount of drugs out there.
“I was told 10 years ago we were basically dealing with 20 substances, now we are dealing with 420.”
The meeting also revealed major support for decriminalization of all drugs and diverting funding for prosecution to treatment, according to The Irish Times. Ó Ríordáin also emphasised that decriminalisation would not simply change peoples attitudes overnight,
“It can’t happen by itself. There has to be a continuum of care. There has to be an understanding around supports and resources and counselling and all those different things,” he said. Decriminalisation was “not going to make a difference in and of itself”.
This realisation and understanding from the Irish representatives is a great example of a government that is finally listening to factual, conclusive evidence. Members of the Committee on Justice, Defense, and Equality sent some of its members to Portugal to learn about experiments with decriminalisation that have been taking place in the country. Before embarking on the trip, the committee members had predicted that the evidence would show that Portugal had become a destination for drug tourists. These predictions did not come true, and the delegation were surprised to see a dramatic drop in the number of HIV/AIDS cases, a decrease in drug-related crime, and no increase in drug use.
A priest named Peter McVerry is also supporting the switch to the Portugal style model. “The enormous cost of arresting and prosecuting people for possession of drugs for personal use over the past 30 to 40 years has been a total waste of money,” he told The Irish Times.
So what’s your bet? Do you think Ireland will be the next to decriminalise cannabis
Source – HighTimes.com