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Drug Freedom Works in Portugal

June 5, 2009

Drug Freedom Works in Portugal

Posted on April 6, 2009
Filed Under legalization, marijuana

Portugal Decriminalization

On Friday I attended Glenn Greenwald’s presentation of his report, “Drug Decriminalization in Portugal,” at the Cato Institute. Greenwald studied how Portugal’s policy of decriminalizing the personal possession of all drugs in 2001 has fared. Portugal’s policy has been a “resounding success.”

Decriminalization is dismissed out of hand by those that consider drugs a moral issue, but prohibitionists that stoop to debate argue decriminalization will bring a “parade of horrors.” Some of these are that usage and addiction rates will explode, more children will do drugs, and decriminalized areas will become drug tourist havens that will spread addiction throughout the world.

None of these things have occurred in Portugal. Instead a massive amount of financial resources have been freed up to provide treatment to those that want it. In addition, more of the population has been willing to take advantage of government-supplied treatment now that there is no fear of criminal ramifications.

These results are unsurprising to those that understand how exaggerated the evils are surrounding “hard” drugs. On average, criminalization prevents responsible and conscientious people from using drugs – the exact population that can handle the freedom sensibly.

Note: Greenwald pointed out that the Portuguese commission had considered legalization but believed it could not legalize without violating international treaty obligations. (These treaties are enforced by zealous drug-war states like the United States.) He added that small countries like Portugal actually have to follow international treaties.

Glenn Greenwald

Photo © David dos Santos
Born 6 March 1967 (1967-03-06) (age 42)
New York City
Nationality American
Citizenship United States
Education B.A., 1990
J.D., 1994
Alma mater George Washington University
New York University Law School
Genres non-fiction, political and legal commentary
Subjects U.S. politics, law
Notable work(s) How Would a Patriot Act?
A Tragic Legacy
Official website

Glenn Greenwald (born March 6, 1967) worked as an American Constitutional and civil rights litigator prior to becoming an award-winning contributor (columnist and blogger) to, where he focuses on political and legal topics. He has also contributed to other political news magazines, including The American Conservative, The National Interest, and In These Times.

Greenwald is the author of three books: How Would a Patriot Act? (2006) and A Tragic Legacy (2007), both New York Times bestsellers; and Great American Hypocrites (2008).

In March, 2009, he was selected, along with Democracy Now’s Amy Goodman, as the recipient of the first annual Izzy Award by the Park Center for Independent Media, an award named after famed independent journalist I.F. “Izzy” Stone and devoted to rewarding excellence in independent journalism. The selection panel cited Greenwald’s “pathbreaking journalistic courage and persistence in confronting conventional wisdom, official deception and controversial issues.”

His commentaries “on surveillance issues and separation of powers” have been cited in The New York Times, in The Washington Post, in United States Senate floor debates, and in House “official … reports on executive power abuses,” and he appears on various radio and television programs as a guest political pundit.

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