Why Portugal decriminalised all drugs

Witness History

By BBC World Service

Why Portugal decriminalised all drugs

Monday, 19 October

In the grip of a drugs crisis, the country took a radical approach in 2001 and became the first country in the world to decriminalise all drugs for personal use. Drug abuse and addiction began to be seen as a public health issue, not a criminal offence. Initial resistance to the policy faded after statistics proved that treatment, rather than punishment, was reducing the number of deaths caused by drugs in Portugal. Dr João Castel-Branco Goulão was one of the chief architects of the shift in policy. He's been explaining to Rebecca Kesby why Portugal had such a pronounced drug problem to begin with and how the shift in strategy helped to reduce it. Image: Staffers interview a new patient in Lisbon, Portugal (Credit: Horacio Villalobos - Corbis/Corbis via Getty Images)
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