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Drugs Rarely Kill Anyone in Portugal

Portugal decriminalized the use of all drugs in 2001. Weed, cocaine, heroin, you name it -- Portugal decided to treat possession and use of small quantities of these drugs as a public health issue, not a criminal one. The drugs were still illegal, of course. But now getting caught with them meant a small fine and maybe a referral to a treatment program -- not jail time and a criminal record.

Whenever we debate similar measures in the U.S. -- marijuana decriminalization, for instance -- many drug-policy makers predict dire consequences. “If you make any attractive commodity available at lower cost, you will have more users," former Office of National Drug Control Policy deputy director Thomas McLellan once said of Portugal's policies. Joseph Califano, founder of the Center for Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University, once warned that decriminalization would "increase illegal drug availability and use among our children."

But in...

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URL: 
http://www.washingtonpost.com/rweb/top/why-hardly-anyone-dies-from-a-drug-overdose-in-portugal/2015/06/05/35b777eb06a39d59284ea083faef5bce_story.html