Santana is a municipality along the northern coast of the archipelago of Madeira in Portugal. In the past 10 years since Portugal enacted their new law decriminalizing the use and possession of illicit drugs, there has been enormous success in the fight against drugs. Before the new law and policy was in effect, drug abuse was just as widespread in Portugal as it was anywhere else. Cocaine, heroin, marijuana and all other addictive substances were abused on a regular basis with no end in sight.
Jail time for illegal drug offences and penalties was their way of handling possession and drug use before 2001. Portugal knew they needed to take a different approach because what they were doing wasn’t helping those in need of treatment and rehabilitation. The prison system was becoming over-loaded, the number of new users was increasing and the community and economy was suffering because of it just like it does everywhere. They knew that a different approach to the drug problem was critical.
Offenders are evaluated and penalties are applied to the individual but there is no incarceration applied to the drug offense since the new policy took effect. Now due to the decriminalization drug policy, the numbers are decreasing dramatically in all areas of drug use and abuse. Drug use and possession is still illegal but the way the government handles it is different. The focus now is on drug abuse treatment and drug rehabilitation. Drug trafficking though is still a criminal offence. There has been a decrease in drug related issues; some of those are as follows:
Studies and statistics show that the change in the way drug use is looked at and treated has had a positive effect on Portugal. Focusing on the individual and treating their addiction along with drug rehabilitation continues to be a success for Portugal and their citizens.