Portugal still has a long way to go, and some people continue to use drugs in appalling conditions. But, says Fonseca, „what America and other countries can learn from Portugal is to treat people with more dignity.“ Portugal has shown that governments can give addicts the tools they need to get their lives back on track without spending large sums of money. But to do so, he must stop treating them like criminals. The Commission`s principles are consistent with the hegemonic discourse on abstinence. Its main objective is to promote adherence to treatment or the decision to abstain from drug use (Legislative Decree No. 130-A/2001). While referrals to health care facilities are voluntary, it is mandatory for individuals caught using drugs to physically report to the boards. This is somewhat contrary to the prevailing perspective on drug use in the health sector, where consent is crucial. This is, for example, the position recommended by the Mental Health Act (Law No. 36/98). The crucial point is that the commissions – although they are under the responsibility of the Ministry of Health, their teams are mainly composed of psychosocial technicians and their objective is to favour a health approach – exist with the end of the treatment of administrative offences and the imposition of sanctions, a circumstance that represents a kind of irremediable contradiction. The first official call to change Portugal`s drug laws came from Rui Pereira, a former constitutional judge who revised the penal code in 1996. He found the practice of imprisoning people for drug use counterproductive and unethical.
„I immediately thought it was not legitimate for the state to punish users,“ he told me in his office at the University of Lisbon`s Faculty of Law. At the time, about half of those incarcerated were there for drug-related reasons, and the epidemic, he said, was seen as „an intractable problem.“ It recommended discouraging drug use without imposing sanctions or further alienating drug users. His proposals were not immediately accepted, but they did not go unnoticed. Under the 2001 law, drug traffickers still go to jail. But anyone caught with less than 10 days of drugs — including marijuana and heroin — is usually sent to a local commission made up of a doctor, lawyer and social worker, where they learn about treatment and medical services available. And in Portugal, there is no distinction between „hard“ and „soft“ drugs, or whether they are used in private or in public. What matters is whether the relationship with drugs is healthy or not. Hughes C, Stevens A. What can we learn from the Portuguese decriminalisation of illicit drugs? F.
J Criminol. 2010;50(6):999-1022. doi.org/10.1093/bjc/azq038. Drug use became an administratively punishable offense, but not a crime, and was placed under the jurisdiction of the Commissions for the Deterrence of Drug Addiction, created by Legislative Decree No. 130 -A / 2001 (January 23, 2001). The PDPM is consistent with the conviction that the war on drugs has failed and is therefore committed to ensuring greater respect for the rights of drug users; and it is also in line with broader European and global trends towards policies that reduce penalties for drug use . Meanwhile, the harm reduction movement has challenged global prohibitionism  and is asserting, at least potentially, as a driver of social transformation. The liberation of the phenomenon of drug use from the paradigm of the war on drugs  seems to be at the heart of the double HR – harm reduction and human rights (see Soares et al. ) – especially in its strong version, which fully recognizes the right to drug use, as opposed to its weak version, which primarily defends health rights . The latter, far from the activism that originally opposed prohibitionism, reveals the historical tension between health priorities and the profound political changes related to drug use , which, as we will see, are also reflected in the challenges facing the PDPM. Committees have a wide range of sanctions when deciding on drug offences. These include: Portugal`s policy is based on three pillars: firstly, there are no such things as soft or hard drugs, but only healthy and unhealthy relations with drugs; second, a person`s unhealthy relationship with drugs often hides frayed relationships with loved ones, the world around them and themselves; and thirdly, that the eradication of all drugs is an impossible goal.
EMCDDA. Drug Policy Profiles – Portugal. Luxembourg: Publications Office of the European Union; 2011. www.emcdda.europa.eu/publications/drug-policy-profiles/portugal_en. Retrieved February 6, 2020 Portuguese politics — and Goulão`s role as drug czar — have managed to survive seven conservative and progressive governments. Some critics have said that drug cultivation in Portugal is now too permissive, with data showing that more people have experimented with drugs since 2001. But, while some politicians are pushing for a return to a more American war on drugs, the policy is holding firm — in part because the general public supports decriminalization and a health-centered approach. Manichean beliefs have long dominated the ideology behind drug policy. Despite widespread advocacy for evidence-based policies  and human rights policies , these beliefs have presented drug use as exceptionally dangerous behaviour and have maintained the goal of a drug-free society to this day . Nevertheless, the decriminalization movement around the world seems to be becoming more and more attractive . An example of this is the so-called Portuguese Drug Policy Model (MPDP), whose implementation, since 2001, decriminalizes the public and private use, acquisition and possession of all illicit drugs (which is quite innovative in this respect), provided that they do not exceed the amount required for the consumption of an average person for 10 days (Law No.
30/2000, 29 November 2000). The distinction between soft and hard drugs has been abolished . The language also began to change.