Blue States Are Learning the Wrong Lessons from Portugal
Drug policy involves more than just decriminalisation
When Americans talk about drug policy, someone invariably brings up Portugal. In 2001, the tiny European nation decriminalised possession of all controlled substances, replacing jail time with referral to health-oriented “dissuasion commissions.” Progressives routinely invoke Portugal as a more “humane” alternative to the American approach. Oregon’s pioneering drug decriminalisation initiative, Measure 110, was even ostensibly based on Portugal’s model.
But has Portugal’s drug experiment run aground? Reporting from the city of Porto, the Washington Post recently detailed that city’s struggles with addiction: “people with gaunt, clumsy hands lift crack pipes to lips, syringes to veins. Authorities are sealing off warren-like alleyways with iron bars and fencing in parks to halt the spread of encampments.”
Charles Fain Lehman is a fellow at the Manhattan Institute and a contributing editor of City Journal.