Portugal starts to realize its mistake on drugs

When Oregon voters were sold the bill of goods on drug decriminalization – the fatal error known at the time as Measure 110 – the proponents couldn't stop babbling about Portugal. "Portugal decriminalized drugs, and it works."

Well, now we see from the Washington Post that no, it isn't working. The bleak scene in Portuguese cities is starting to look uncannily like the one in Portland. And apparently they haven't been dealing much with fentanyl yet. Wait 'til that gets there.

“These days in Portugal, it is forbidden to smoke tobacco outside a school or a hospital. It is forbidden to advertise ice cream and sugar candies. And yet, it is allowed for [people] to be there, injecting drugs,” said Rui Moreira, Porto’s mayor. “We’ve normalized it.”...

In Porto, the collection of drug-related debris from city streets surged 24 percent between 2021 and 2022, with this year on track to far outpace the last. Crime — including robbery in public spaces — spiked 14 percent from 2021 to 2022, a rise police blame partly on increased drug use.... 

But in the first substantial way since decriminalization passed, some Portuguese voices are now calling for a rethink of a policy that was long a proud point of national consensus. Urban visibility of the drug problem, police say, is at its worst point in decades and the state-funded nongovernmental organizations that have largely taken over responding to the people with addiction seem less concerned with treatment than affirming that lifetime drug use should be seen as a human right....

Of two dozen street people who use drugs and were asked by The Post, not one said they’d ever appeared before one of Portugal’s Dissuasion Commissions, envisioned as conduits to funnel people with addiction into rehab. Police were observed passing people using drugs, not bothering to cite them — a step that is supposed to lead to registration for appearances before those commissions.

“Why?” replied one officer when asked why people were not being cited and referred to commissions. The officer spoke on the condition of anonymity because of not being authorized to speak with the press. “Because we know most of them. We’ve registered them before. Nothing changes if we take them in.” 

Read the whole thing here. (May the paywall gods be with you.)

The people of Oregon really do need to force a repeal of Measure 110 onto the ballot, and the sooner the better. Because the bobbleheads we send to Salem – and I'm looking at people who should know better, like Kate Lieber, Lew Frederick, Michael Dembrow – are perfectly fine with the status quo and aren't going to change it in any meaningful way.

There is no way to solve the drug addiction crisis without the involvement of the criminal justice system. It's never been done, and it's never going to be done – including in Portugal. Let's get real.


  1. We can't arrest our way out of this but we could let natural selection thin the herd. Let them OD themselves to oblivion. Choices have consequences. We are not committed enough to save them so let them commit suicide with their choices and those who want to live offer the services for redemption.

    1. It’s possible to interpret the county’s policy, and to a lesser degree the state’s policy, as doing exactly that: by making it easier for addicts to use lethal drugs, the state and county are working to eliminate the population of drug users efficiently, with a minimum of interference from law enforcement or others who would step in to save the lost souls.

    2. The chances of a M110 reversal would be greater if the Oregon Republican Party were to begin publicly proclaiming its success:

      "Stay the course, Oregon has so many more addicts (and future addicts) left to kill."

  2. So old I remember the Netherlands as summum bonum of civic life - at least in the eyes of enlightened Portland

    1. In the eyes of Portland, a drag queen is canonized. Wish they could concentrate those public efforts to the mental health crisis on the streets.

  3. Well the so-called progressives still think Sweden is a socialist democracy. They tried that back in the 70s and gave it up not soon after because it was a complete disaster.

  4. “There is no way to solve the drug addiction crisis without the involvement of the criminal justice system. It's never been done, and it's never going to be done – including in Portugal. “

    So where has the drug addiction crisis been solved _with_ the involvement of the criminal justice system?

    In a place flooded with fentanyl, an argument could be made that every person who refuses shelter and assistance getting off the street is a danger to self (and in many instances to others) which is supposedly the standard for a hold in the psych unit.


Post a Comment

The platform used for this blog is awfully wonky when it comes to comments. It may work for you, it may not. It's a Google thing, and beyond my control. Apologies if you can't get through. You can email me a comment at jackbogsblog@comcast.net, and if it's appropriate, I can post it here for you.