5 Years After: Portugal's Drug Decriminalization Policy Shows Positive Results

Street drug-related deaths from overdoses drop and the rate of HIV cases crashes
Brian Vastag
Scientific American
Tuesday, April 7, 2009

In the face of a growing number of deaths and cases of HIV linked to drug abuse, the Portuguese government in 2001 tried a new tack to get a handle on the problem—it decriminalized the use and possession of heroin, cocaine, marijuana, LSD and other illicit street drugs. The theory: focusing on treatment and prevention instead of jailing users would decrease the number of deaths and infections.