Drug Decriminalization In Portugal

In 2001, one country decided to end the criminal treatment of possession or use of street drugs, to counter alarming numbers of deaths and HIV infections. Dealers and traffickers are still locked up. Users aren't. Glenn Greenwald put the study together for CATO. Its results are striking:

The number of deaths from street drug overdoses dropped from around 400 to 290 annually, and the number of new HIV cases caused by using dirty needles to inject heroin, cocaine and other illegal substances plummeted from nearly 1,400 in 2000 to about 400 in 2006, according to a report released recently by the Cato Institute, a Washington, D.C, libertarian think tank. "Now instead of being put into prison, addicts are going to treatment centers and they're learning how to control their drug usage or getting off drugs entirely," report author Glenn Greenwald, a former New York State constitutional litigator, said during a press briefing at Cato last week.

The paper is available here.