Legalized Pot, Cocaine Work OK in Portugal

By Drew Nelles,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 26, 2009 6:45 PM CDT
Portugal's lax drug laws and well-funded treatment plans have caused abuse rates to decline significantly.   (Shutterstock)
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(Newser) – Portugal decriminalized drug possession 8 years ago, so it must have high abuse rates, right? Not according to a new study from the Cato Institute, Time reports. Teen drug use and HIV infection from needles have declined, and more addicts now enter treatment programs. "Judging by every metric, decriminalization in Portugal has been a resounding success," one researcher says.

Meanwhile, America boasts the world's highest rates of marijuana and cocaine use. But with drug gang wars escalating on the American border with Mexico, one US professor remains skeptical, attributing Portugal's success to the cyclical nature of drug epidemics. A Cato researcher jumped on his admission that drug use failed to rise in Portugal: "That is the central concession that will transform the debate," he said.