Decades ago, the United States and Portugal both struggled with illicit drugs and took decisive action — in diametrically opposite directions. The U.S. cracked down vigorously, spending billions of dollars incarcerating drug users. In contrast, Portugal undertook a monumental experiment: It decriminalized the use of all drugs in 2001, even heroin and cocaine, and unleashed a major public health campaign to tackle addiction. Ever since in Portugal, drug addiction has been treated more as a medical challenge than as a criminal justice issue.
After more than 15 years, it’s clear which approach worked better. The United States drug policy failed spectacularly, with about as many Americans dying last year of overdoses — around 64,000 — as were killed in the Vietnam, Afghanistan and Iraq Wars combined.
In contrast, Portugal may be winning the war on drugs — by ending it. Today, the Health Ministry estimates that only about 25,000 Portuguese use heroin, down from 100,000 when the policy began.
The number of Portuguese dying from overdoses plunged more than 85 percent before rising a bit in the aftermath of the European economic crisis of recent years. Even so, Portugal’s drug mortality rate is the lowest in Western Europe — one-tenth the rate of Britain or Denmark — and about one-fiftieth the latest number for the U.S.
For the last 50-someodd years the reactionaries in our government have abandoned common sense, not to mention compassion and empathy for their fellow citizens, when it has come to drug policy, instead preferring to have their ignorance praised and prejudices stroked by the mouth-breathers, deplorables and multinational corporations.
But hot damn if that isn’t changing by sheer attrition: Moronic regressives like Lil’ Jeffy Sessions are slowly dying out. And they’re being replaced by a more knowledgeable electorate, people who know they have been lied to, by whom and for what reasons.
This will eventually spell the doom of prohibition; inch by inch, sloooooowly we will turn..
Even the U.S. government will have to come around: One can deny the obvious only for so long.
“To argue with a man who has renounced the use and authority of reason, and whose philosophy consists in holding humanity in contempt, is like administering medicine to the dead, or endeavoring to convert an atheist by scripture.” – Thomas Paine