Drugs Under Control in Portugal


Not the Netherlands but Portugal is the European country that has the most liberal drug laws. In 2001 the Iberian country was the first in Europe that did not punish people for taking drugs like heroin, cocaine or marijuana.

Instead of sending a drug addict to prison the Portuguese authorities offer a therapy to get them off drugs. As the government says punishing them might drive more and more to underground drug dealers, so they choose to give them health treatment. People who are caught with drugs are sent to a psychologist and a social worker.

Those against the liberal law were afraid of drug tourists who would come to the small nation to get legal drugs but that didn't happen in the last few years.

Results that were published by a national institution on drug use say that illegal drug use among teenagers in Portugal has actually gone down. The number of HIV infections caused by sharing needles has also dropped while there are more and more people in Portugal who ask for treatment. The number of drug-related deaths has also decreased.


A government spokesman says that Portugal, which had one of the highest drug use rates in Europe, now has the problem under control. Compared with the European Union and the United States, Portugal is really making progress. More Americans have used cocaine than Portuguese have taken marijuana.

Americans are now looking towards Portugal's success to try to find a solution to their own problems. More and more drugs are pouring into the country from Mexico where drug gangs are fighting each other for a big share of the US market. American anti-drug experts are sceptical. They say that Portugal is a small country and does not have the same problems that the Americans do, so the situation cannot be compared.


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  • actually = really
  • authority = person who works for the government
  • compare = to take a look at or examine two or more things
  • decrease = to go down
  • drop = to go down
  • drug addict = a person who cannot stop taking drugs
  • drug related = because of drugs
  • health treatment = doctors and hospitals that cure you
  • HIV = AIDS
  • Iberia = the southwestern part of Europe that consists of Spain and Portugal
  • legal = official
  • liberal = tolerant, free-thinking
  • offer = give
  • pour = come into
  • progress = a step forward
  • psychologist = someone who is trained in psychology
  • publish = print, make public
  • punish = to make someone suffer because they have one something against the law
  • sceptical =you do not agree with what others tell you
  • share = part
  • share = to have the same as
  • spokesman = a person who is chosen to speak for an organization
  • success =when you achieve or do what you want to
  • underground = secret, illegal