Absolving drug users from arrest and prosecution for drug use and preparatory acts like acquisition, simple possession or cultivation for personal use does not lead to increased drug use, but does significantly lower pressure on law enforcement agencies and on the judicial and penitentiary systems, and it removes barriers for users with problematic patterns of use to approach treatment and harm reduction services.

  • Drug Decriminalization in Portugal

    Lessons for Creating Fair and Successful Drug Policies
    Glenn Greenwald
    Cato Institute
    April 2009

    On July 1, 2001, a nationwide law in Portugal took effect that decriminalized all drugs, including cocaine and heroin. Under the new legal framework, all drugs were “decriminalized,” not “legalized.” Drug possession for personal use and drug usage itself are still legally prohibited, but violations of those prohibitions are deemed to be exclusively administrative violations and are removed completely from the criminal realm.

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  • Tráfico de drogas e Constituição

    Um estudo jurídico-social do tipo do art. 33 da Lei de Drogas diante dos princípios constitucionais-penais
    Ela Volkmer de Castilho Wiecko Luciana Boiteux
    Relatório Final do Projeto de Pesquisa apresentado ao Ministério da Justiça/ PNUD, no Projeto “Pensando o Direito”
    Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro / Universidade de Brasília
    March 2009

    This study commissioned by the Brazilian Ministry of Justice underlines the disparity that exists between the depenalization of drug use and the increased penalization of selling drugs that resulted from the 2006 Law on Drugs. Although the fact that the use of drugs is no longer a crime is certainly progress, it seems disproportionate to establish maximum prison sentences of 5 years for the sale of very minor quantities of drugs. The study was a joint project of the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, UFRJ, and the University of Brasília UnB that ran from March 2008 and July 2009, supported by the United Nations Development Program, UNDP.

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  • On the threshold

    How relevant should quantity be in determining intent to supply?
    Charlotte Walsh
    International Journal of Drug Policy 19 (2008) 479–485
    December 2008

    This paper offers a critique of the UK Government’s decision to abandon its former plans to introduce thresholds into drugs legislation via section 2 of the Drugs Act 2005. This provision had been enacted with a view to enhancing the significance of the amount of drugs an individual is caught with in prosecutions for the offence of possession with intent to supply.

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  • Decriminalization of cannabis

    Wim van den Brink
    Current Opinion in Psychiatry 2008, 21:122–126
    March 2008

    This paper discusses the case for decriminalization of cannabis use, based on a careful weighting of the currently available evidence regarding advantages and risks of such a policy change. The issue of decriminalization is a response to the widespread use of cannabis in spite of its current illegal status; that is, as a consequence of the perceived ineffectiveness of the traditional prohibition of cannabis use.

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  • Beyond Punitive Prohibition

    Liberalizing the Dialogue on International Drug Policy
    Melissa T. Aoyagi
    Journal of International Law and Politics
    Volume 37, Number 3
    March 2006

    The primary objective of this paper is to evaluate whether the drug conventions permit states to experiment with alternatives to the punitive prohibitionist policies that have typified the global approach to combating the negative effects of personal drug use. Because harm minimization encompasses most policies providing alternatives to punitive prohibition, the analysis that follows will focus on comparing the two strategies, in an effort to frame the current debate on drug policy.

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  • Illicit drug use in the EU: legislative approaches

    European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA)
    February 2005

    This paper offers an overview of the current legal provisions on the use and possession of drugs for personal use in the EU Member States. In addition to documentary resources (the European Legal Database on Drugs – ELDD) and the current work of the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA) in the field, some thirty studies and other publications were consulted. The study concludes that, in many countries, personal use of illicit drugs is considered a relatively minor offence, incompatible with custodial sanctions.

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  • What Does It Mean to Decriminalize Marijuana?

    A Cross-National Empirical Examination
    Pacula et.al.
    Center for the Study of Law and Society Faculty Working Papers
    Jurisprudence and Social Policy Program, UC Berkeley
    September 2004

    This paper provides a framework for understanding what decriminalization means within the broader context of depenalization. To illustrate these concepts, it provides a detailed discussion of a range of depenalization policies observed in developed countries, highlighting for each country a distinct issue that influences how the policy is implemented and its potential impact.

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  • The Limited Relevance of Drug Policy

    Cannabis in Amsterdam and in San Francisco
    Craig Reinarman, Peter Cohen, and Hendrien L. Kaal
    American Journal of Public Health, Vol 94, No. 5
    May 2004

    Decriminalizing cannabis doesn't lead to more widespread use, according to a study comparing cannabis users in two similar cities with opposing cannabis policies — Amsterdam, the Netherlands (decriminalization), and San Francisco, California (criminalization). The study compared age at onset, regular and maximum use, frequency and quantity of use over time, intensity and duration of intoxication, career use patterns, and other drug use. No evidence was found to support claims that criminalization reduces use or that decriminalization increases use.

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  • The role of the quantity in the prosecution of drug offences

    European Legal Database on Drugs (ELDD) Comparative Study
    European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA)
    April 2003

    All countries use legal or judicial means to grade the severity of the offence of drug possession and related actions. Frequently this is done by reference to the quantity of drugs involved in the offence, and some countries choose to indicate certain quantities as the threshold between the levels of offence or punishment. This paper examines whether or not such quantities are defined in the various EU Member States and Norway and, if so, how.

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  • Decriminalization of Drug Use in Portugal

    The Development of a Policy
    Mirjam van het Loo, Ineke van Beusekom, James P. Kahan
    The ANNALS of the American Academy of Political and Social Science 2002; 582; 49
    July 2002

    Drug use is an increasing problem in Portugal. In response, following the advice of a select committee, the Portuguese government has recently issued a number of laws implementing a strong harm-reductionistic orientation. The flagship of these laws is the decriminalization of the use and possession for use of drugs.

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