The numbers say it all: Portugal has decreased their number of active addicts, instances of HIV, violent crime and most notably, the number of overdoses in the country. In Portugal, there are three drug-related deaths per million in the country compared to Canada’s 79 per million. They must be doing something right.
As with any radical plan or change in policy, there will be people resistant to the change. Critics of Portugal’s plan say that decriminalization will increase the likelihood of use or make the government look soft on drugs and crime, but Ian Culbert of the Canadian Public Health Association says there is no evidence to support those claims.
“In fact, the only risk is that we’re going to start treating people like human beings and not like criminals and giving them the proper supports to reintegrate them into society,” Culbert told Your Morning, “And who knows, we might even save tax dollars because it’s cheaper to support people and give them treatment to fight their addiction than it is to incarcerate them.”
Culbert pointed out that the most significant obstacle to instigating Portugal-inspired drug laws in Canada would be the mentality of the people. We have been indoctrinated to see addiction and chronic drug use as a weakness or criminal activity rather than an illness. We would have to collectively change our attitudes toward the entire public health issue in order to truly make that change in our justice system.
Author: CHLOE HATZITOLIOS