Easy to ignore how big a mess it still is in 2020 Portugal
In 2020 Portugal law reform is still a mess when it comes to Cannabis law reform – Growing your own is still illegal as is possession. Here decriminalisation means if caught with less than 26gms then as a 1st offence there is no penalty – 2nd offences see mandatory treatment, fines or imprisonment –
Updated September 2020 –
29 December 2018
I am not sure what has been more misquoted, how Portugal drug laws removed prohibition, or how they legalised all drugs or how well they would work in other countries like Australia.
Australia legalised Cannabis for medical use in 2016 – but currently REAL Cannabis is illegal in all states, so the only licenses for growing REAL Cannabis are for export or research – per the DOH! (Department of health) & ODC (Orifice of Drug Chaos / Office of Drug Control (I always get those confused one is the name the other is the impact) 🙂
It has been 18 years – since Portugal 2001
Now politicians from all over the world go to Portugal to get confirmation why Portugal drug laws work but if asked the right questions will leave knowing it is of little use outside of Portugal.
Portugal Was Never About Cannabis It Was About Harm Minimisation For Heroin Users & HIV
Hardly a Cannabis issue – Prior to the changes, Portugal was losing a generation to heroin, and all the fun dirty needles brought, sexually transmitted diseases and of course death. So much so that in 1999 Portugal had the highest rates of HIV by drug users in the world.
The new Portugal drug policy of Portugal was put in place in 2001 – Since then, Canada has legalised real Cannabis for medical use, now recreational use, & 10 USA states have legalized recreational use of Cannabis only after legalising REAL Cannabis for medical use 1st between 4 & 20 years.
When talking Cannabis Law Reform Portugal is not the right model and is only a bi-products of the bigger picture which is all about harm minimisation of Heroin & HIV mainly.
Portugal Not So Cannabis Friendly –
In Portugal, recreational use of cannabis is forbidden by law; also the medicinal use is not yet officially recognized (there is debate and legislators have proposed bills in the Portuguese Parliament). Portugal signed all the UN conventions on narcotics and psychotropic to date. With the 2001 decriminalization bill, the consumer is now regarded as a patient and not as a criminal (having the amount usually used for ten days of personal use is not a punishable crime) but repression persists. One can be sent to a dissuasion committee and have a talk or must pay a fee. According to the libertarian think tank Cato Institute, illegal drug use among Portuguese teenagers declined after 2001, and 45 percent of the country’s heroin addicts sought medical treatment. But critics of the policy, such as the Association for a Drug-Free Portugal, say overall consumption of drugs in the country has actually risen by 4.2 percent since 2001 and claim the benefits of decriminalization are being “over-egged.”
Portugal Cultivation and Distribution
The cultivation of cannabis, even on a very small-scale home grown basis for personal use only, can legally be prosecuted. However, an unknown number of enthusiasts of small-scale home-cultivation grow the plants with a high degree of secrecy due to the legal punishment they could face if prosecuted, and due to potential social stigma as well. In neighboring Spain, small-scale cultivation of cannabis plants for personal use only, is tolerated by the authorities and there are many grow shops across the country selling their products physically and online.
In 2003 another update to the “Portuguese drugs law” brought the criminalization of the possession of cannabis seeds, except certified industrial hemp seed.
This law made the buying of cannabis seeds from legal and financially transparent online cannabis seed shops based in other European Union member states, such as neighboring Spain or the Netherlands, an unlawful transaction when performed by Portuguese residents. The provision of seeds and tools to produce and consume cannabis is also illegal in the country. Production and distribution of hemp products is legal but regulated. There are a small number of hemp shops in Portugal and hemp products are legal.
Why Portugal Drug Laws Won’t Work Outside of Portugal?
The question folks seem to not want to ask is will they work outside of Portugal and if not why not?
The best person to ask is the architect of Portugal’s drug policy, Dr Joao Goulao. He was asked the question by another delegation last year, this time by the UK Wales delegation and a reporter heard the right question and the unfortunate answer.
“Our drug problems were present across ALL social classes – this was a factor in favour of this law, outside of portugal it is is much more confined to a smaller class of marginalised people and that makes it more difficult for other Governments to address it”
The changes in Portugal have been dramatic, Heroin HIV & deaths are way down that was the intent. Portugal is now fighting a battle to actually legalise REAL Cannabis for medical use. CBD & Hemp Pharma is already legal in Portugal as it is in Australia.
Quotes on the UK delegation are from https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-wales-39269628
Law reform should always mean a pathway to legalisation, not amnesty and not decriminalization which means it is still illegal and risky.
Portugal got it right for Portugal, but that doesn’t equate to good law reform and those across it say it never was about law reform.