Portugal’s Drug Laws: Decriminalisation in action

Portugal’s Drug Laws: Decriminalisation in action

If I told you now that I had one gram of cocaine in my pocket, you would not arrest me. No. -No?
-No. Ahh Portugal. Maybe the only place on Earth where you can rock up at a cop shop, tell them you’ve got a pocket full of smack, and not get arrested. Is it true that no one has been arrested for drug possession in the last 17 years in Portugal? Not one person. No. Not one. No one. So, right now if I had under two grams of coke, 25 grams of pot, and one gram of MDMA or heroin I could feasibly walk straight out of this cop shop. Sans drugs of course. Still, how is that even a thing? Well, in 2001 Portugal decriminalised drugs. Meaning, you’re allowed to possess a small amount of any illicit substance, without getting arrested. Why? Quick history lesson. For decades Portugal was a closed off catholic country run by a dictator. I mean Coca-Cola was banned and you needed a license to own a cigarette lighter. Then in 1974 there was a revolution and with it came an explosion of freedom. And with that, came drugs. But Portugal just wasn’t equipped to deal with it. And that’s when shit got real. By the 1990s 1% of the Portuguese population was addicted to heroin. As in 1 in every 100 people had a heroin addiction. Rates of AIDS infections among drug addicts were higher than anywhere else in the EU. Now drug use among young people is down and drug induced deaths are four times lower than the European average. AIDS infections and overdoses among addicts are now almost non-existent. Two syringes, two spoons. Citric acid in water. This injection kit is just one of the items provided by this drug outreach unit. The other is methadone. 55-year-old Mario took up heroine at the age of 13, at a time when the drug was everywhere. It was a massive problem. Every family, you know someone that was taking heroin. It was awful because people were taking drugs in the streets. Dying on the streets, infecting others, sharing needles and then the government they are saying there is something to do about it. Do you think that that problem has been addressed? Or has been tackled? Sure. Yes. Hugo says decriminalisation has made it easier for services like this to exist. Where do you think that you would be without this methadone program? He believes he would be dead. Dead? Yeah. These policies have made it easier for drug addicts to get the drugs that they need, but just how easy is it for everyone else to get the drugs that they want? Do you think if you wanted drugs that you could find some? I think so, people keep offering us. I’ve noticed that there is a lot of people smoking weed. Places like this one it’s quite common. Maybe some persons will come to you in this spot and ask you do you want hash, do you want weed? You wouldn’t have to really try hard. Well people here are very relaxed talking about drugs and maybe even smoking them on camera. They also told me that I would have absolutely no problem finding them. Weed, hash, cocaine, MDMA. Whatever you want! But before you think this is a recreational drug users paradise, think again. A 2017 report found that young Portuguese people are smoking less pot, snorting less coke and popping less pills than those in Britain, France, The Netherlands and a bunch of other European countries. The key difference is, when the Portuguese are caught with drugs, they don’t end up with a criminal record. They end up here. -Hi.
-Hello. This is the commission for the dissuasion of drug abuse. This room is normally where we have the preliminary interview. There are no courts, cops or convictions. This looks just sort of like an office building. Yes Normally what we have to show at the Dissuasion commission is that there is not that much to show. Y’know? It’s just a normal office building. And what happens in offices? Admin. Names are recorded, people are interviewed and folk are either free to leave or referred up. What’s the kind of general age of people that come here? Most of the people we see are normally under the age of 25, 30 years old. -So they’re actually quite young?
-Yes. What substance are they using? Normally cannabis. Joual, not his real name was busted with a small amount of hash a few days ago. He’s agreed to speak to us but doesn’t want to show his face. Was it stressful coming here today? No. Why no? Given it’s his first offence, Joual is free to go. If within 5 years he’s sent here again though, he risks tougher consequences such as fines. So was this a waste of your time coming here, do you think? So do you think that after this you’ll stop using hash? I don’t know. Maybe, maybe not. Maybe. But maybe not? There is not going to be a drug free society anywhere. We decided to assume that. What we think we should do around dissuading people, is basically pass information about the risks and consequence. And we know people will probably continue to use the substance that they are using, we just hope that they do it in a more conscious and more responsible way. The Portugal model treats drugs users the same way Australia would treat alcoholics. As a health issue, not a criminal one. So, why hasn’t it taken off anywhere else? It’s been almost 20 years since Portugal decriminalised drugs and while some countries still see it as a radical experiment for Portugal, there’s nothing radical nor experimental about it. It’s simply an accepted solution to what was an unacceptable problem.


  1. nice film.
    just one thought: Running around while talking is kind of exhausting to listen to. I know people always try to make a movie exciting and there are a lot of cuts so the audience isnt falling asleep. But if you kind of running (last szene) and talking so loud, its more kind of restless and makes me nervous… Would prefer some slower moves and more relaxed voice. Not like a turtle; but also not like a monkey on a tree 🙂
    Looking forward to see more videos 🙂

  2. I'm Portuguese and claiming that 100 thousand people were addicted to heroin is false, in the least.. I'd like to see some truly reliable sources for that.

  3. I'am natural from Portugal  and i can give you shure that this cop say lies ^.^   They arrest for shure if have drugs with even under the ilegal  Weight you will get chained to the police department and in minimum you get a big bill to pay.. Sorry bad english but you can understand it i think ^.^

  4. Mas tens que ter sorte com o polícia que tiver a abordar o caso em muitos casos os polícias tiram o consumo dos tóxicos mesmo pequenas quantidades e só tão a arranjar maneira de arranjar problemas purque imaginem que a pessoa não tem mais dinheiro vai ter que ir roubar .E a polícia sabe disso mas não quer ivitar isso.

  5. Oh i love my country now i know when i go back to portugal (madeira) next year for holiday i can hold up to 25 grams of pot😏

  6. This is all nice but in reality there are a lot of cops that don't follow the law. what they normally do is take your shit and maybe give you a fine but they'll almost certainly take the drugs. i've seen it happen more than once. and depending on the circumstances and the cop, you might even get a nice slap/punch in the face, but no they don't arrest normaly

  7. Portugal is a smaller country and less corrupted. You gotta think about it they just got a new rev because before they couldn’t even have a lighter. So they are appreciative people. Usa 🇺🇸 is just a shit hole with people who are drug addicts they take advantage of help and police arrest the shit outta them etc.

  8. the people here in portugal its more weed,and hash.
    the other drugs, its not alote of people taking.
    because of the programs of the state.
    whidout i heath care free service,its not possible.
    so yes it works,alote of people are free with this help from the estate.
    sorry my english.

  9. nopes!! wrong!! toxicodependence is considered a disease, but!! selling is illegal! Cannabis thc is illegal! one can't even have a sinle plant for their own consuption and medicaltreatment. As for methadone, well that's is a pharma business!! Portugal government denied the legallization of cannabis because that would kill not only the traffic but also the pharma industry. It's nothing but a bogus, an illusion. It heals, and I'm not talking about getting high, no! Yes, hemp is legal, but it's benefits to health have only effect if/when combined with thc, such as sativa species. zation of cannabis because that would kill not only the traffic but also the pharma industry.It's nothing but a bogus, an illusion. Cannabis is a millenar plant, used in China for over than 5 thound years, from clothing to treatment. Cannabis is a millenar plant, used in China for over than 5 thousand years, from clothing to treatment. Expose the pharma. Begin with Bial – why they've released "asian bees"! And go to chemo… and ask how much is the gain for a treatment that kills! ask why imunetherapy isn't advised nor informed by oncologists in the first stage of cancer. Why is Jaime Gama, a former minister, working in a a company that porduces cannabis in all it's forms. Wake up!! And please, dig more!

  10. American politicians and lawmakers would never choose this they lose too much money. It's All About the Benjamins baby with American policymakers

  11. now we know why madeline mccann was snatched from portugal, the land of legalised cannabis..
    ps, a big high! from england.

  12. Podemos viver seguros? Existe um filme que nos diz:

    "Deus amou tanto o mundo que deu o seu único filho, para que todo aquele que nele crer não pereça, mas tenha a vida eterna" (João 3:16).

    "Todos pecaram e ficaram destituídos da glória de Deus"; Romanos 3:23

    "O salário do pecado é a morte, mas o dom gratuito de Deus é a vida eterna em Cristo Jesus nosso Senhor." Romanos 6:23

    "Eu sou o caminho, a verdade e a vida: ninguém vem ao Pai, mas por mim." João 14.6

    "Cristo morreu por nossos pecados de acordo com as escrituras, e ele foi sepultado, e no terceiro dia ele se levantou novamente de acordo com as Escrituras" 1 Coríntios. 15: 3-4

    "Em quem temos a redenção pelo seu sangue, o perdão dos pecados, segundo as riquezas da sua graça." Efésios 1: 7

    Romanos 10:
    9 Se confessares com a tua boca o Senhor Jesus, e em teu coração creres que Deus o ressuscitou dentre os mortos, então serás salvo.
    13 Porque todo aquele que invocar o nome do Senhor será salvo.

    "Portanto, desde que fomos justificados pela fé, temos paz com Deus através de nosso Senhor Jesus Cristo". Romanos 5: 1

    Salvação, perdão dos pecados, está disponível para qualquer um que confie em Jesus Cristo como seu Senhor e Salvador.

    Apocalipse 21: 8: Mas os medrosos, os incrédulos e os abomináveis, e os assassinos, e os prostitutos, e os feiticeiros, e os idólatras, e todos os mentirosos, terão a sua parte no lago que arde com fogo e enxofre: segunda morte.

  13. People need to be responsible for what they do. They control the demand. The government should buy up the heroin supply and take the money out of it. There are trillions being spent on drug control but it doesn't work. You can still buy heroin on any street corner. Tell your elected official that you want to take a different approach to the war on drugs.

  14. Marijuana should be legalized though so people who are not experienced with the harms and benefits of each substance that is scheduled. They will be able to differentiate between relatively safe to most dangerous by knowing that the relatively safe ones are being sold in stores like alcohol and cigarettes for adults 21+ or 19+ 18+ like in Canada.

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