Does Decriminalizing All Drugs Make Sense?

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Feb. 24 (Bloomberg) –- Drug Policy Alliance Policy Manager of the Americas Hanna Hetzer discusses Portugal’s 10-year experiment of decriminalizing all drugs and its impact on the country. She speaks to Trish Regan and Matt Miller on Bloomberg Television’s “Street Smart.” (Source: Bloomberg)

Welcome.

Let's talk, first of all, about what they actually did.

About 12 years ago, portugal decided to decriminalize all drugs because they had such a problem with heroin addiction.

They basically did not know what else to do.

This was revolutionary.

That is right.

Portugal became one of the first countries to do such a comprehensive decriminalization of all drugs, not just marijuana, including heroin and cocaine, because it was, like you said, such a problem, and everyone wondered what the results would be.

We have a lot of experiments, but we have now had a decade of a lot of results, and the results are wonderful.

You do not have an increase in consumption, but you do have a monumental decrease in hepatitis c. there are not more junkies.

By the way, i do not think that people think of marijuana that way.

This is everything.

Also what is very important about where to go, if a lot of people in the portugal health department sought marijuana in as -- marijuana as a gateway drug, thinking that someone would move onto something stronger down the road, and it was pretty critical that they were able to see a decrease in marijuana usage amongst the young.

Obviously, marijuana use, all drug use has gone down, but that marijuana use among the young had gone down.

I spoke with the former resident of brazil about this recently.

He talked a little bit about what drug decriminalization in portugal was, and take a listen to this.

So in portugal, they decriminalized it, and they also offer hospitals for heroin addicts, and they replaced the heroine with methadone.

Drug use is declining, mainly among the youth.

I remember being on a bus in lisbon, and this man came up to me and saw the cameras, and he asked what story i am reporting on, and he said, this is so important that you are doing this story, because i would not be alive today had it not been for this program.

They are putting money into education and health treatment programs, and he says he still goes regularly to the clinic for his fix of methadone.

Instead of people going to people who use drugs and arresting them on the spot, which does nothing to decrease drug addiction, they put them in front of committees which has social workers and others and offers treatment instead of jail, so you see more people in treatment, and the exacerbated effects of the drugs do not happen.

And on law enforcement.

I was going to say.

$11 billion per year.

Think about the death.

Despite the deaths that guzman had by supplying drugs to the kids, there were people that were killed.

I would assume they have less criminal violence from drug gangs.

Yes, and then there is holland, the other enigmatic case, which has drug use, but lower than the average, and a decreased use of drugs in the copy shop model, and as a means to get marijuana, so it is really the most excess foam model, and in reference to the guzman case, it is all well and good, and congratulations for the mexican and american security forces for taking down the drug lord come but that is not going to reduce the violence.

Yes, and, in fact, there could even be more violence, because whatever cartel wants to take over that space is going to be working harder.

I was thinking about who was the former huge drug kingpin out of columbia?

Escobar.

As soon as escobar was dead, it seemed like we had done something to stop the massive influx of drugs, but, of course, somebody else popped up in his place.

Maybe to be as aggressive as portugal.

Thank you.

This text has been automatically generated. It may not be 100% accurate.

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