Scientific American has an article examining the effects of legislation in Portugal that decriminalized drug use:
Instead of jail, users are put into rehab programs. The results, according to the Cato Institute study at the center of the article, are fewer deaths from overdose (from 400 to 290 annually), and none of the dire problems naysayers predicted:
Peter Reuter, a criminologist at the University of Maryland, College Park, says he’s skeptical decriminalization was the sole reason drug use slid in Portugal, noting that another factor, especially among teens, was a global decline in marijuana use. By the same token, he notes that critics were wrong in their warnings that decriminalizing drugs would make Lisbon a drug mecca.
“Drug decriminalization did reach its primary goal in Portugal,” of reducing the health consequences of drug use, he says, “and did not lead to Lisbon becoming a drug tourist destination.”
It seems like we could save a whole bunch of money and lives by adopting a similar approach.
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