LEGAL STATUS OF CANNABIS IN PORTUGAL
1. Consumption and possession
In Portugal, recreational use of cannabis is forbidden by law; also the medicinal use is not yet officially recognized (there are a debate and some law projects in Parliament). Portugal signed all the UN conventions on narcotics and psychotropic to date. With the 2001 decriminalization bill, the consumer is now regarded as a patient and not as a criminal (you can buy, posses, the amount usually used for ten days) but repression persists. You can be sent to a dissuasion committee and have a talk or you must pay some money.
2. Cultivation and 3. Distribution
The cultivation of cannabis, even if in very small scale home grow can legally be persecuted. In 2003 another update to the “drugs law” brought the criminalization of the possession of cannabis seeds, except certified industrial hemp seed. A shady tone of a law that in practice while targeting the personal non-problematic home growers, benefits the black market of near-monopoly of Moroccan commercial hashish.
4. Provision of seeds, tools to produce and consume cannabis etc.
5. Production and distribution of hemp products
There are a few hemp shops in Portugal and hemp products are legal.
Limits of small amount: 40 g Hashish, 3 g Heroin, 5 g Cocaine, 30-50 doses of LSD – only punished if it is used in public (with a fine, 301 – 300 000 EUR).
POLICIES ON OTHER DRUGS
Despite news reports of July 2001, that apparently led many to believe that Portugal had legalised drug consumption, the policy of the Portuguese government remains characterised by prohibitionism. However, the attitude of some of the country’s most important political leaders, including the president, is very open-minded.
Current drug legislation is based on a law dating from 1993. Since July 2001, consumption of all drugs has been decriminalised. However, possession can still be prosecuted, with administrative sanctions. This revision follows a development that started in recent years, when harm reduction programs like needle exchange programs and maintenance therapies have been installed. Currently, there is some discussion going on regarding the opening of consumption rooms.
The drug problem in Portugal is considered to be rather large (illegal and legal drugs). Public opinions polls show that drugs are the main concern of the Portuguese population. Rates of hepatitis B, C and HIV are very high. Access to medical care for drug problems or for infectious diseases is very difficult. Health, legal and police services are considered unable to deal with the situation. Prisons are overloaded, without any kind of harm reduction programs, taking in account that 70% of all inmates are drug users.
In 1996 the President of the Parliament took a public position in favour of legalization of drugs, followed by the General Prosecutor (Provedor de Justiça) who stated in a report on the situation in prisons that harm reduction programs like needle exchange and consumption rooms should be urgently implemented. The president of the Supreme Court also pointed in this direction in a document called “Drug solutions for the 21st century”.
Portugal is hosting the European Monitoring Centre on Drugs and Drug Addiction , the agency of the European Union specialised in collecting and disseminating official data on the drug situation in the Union.
Contact for Drug Policy Reform Activism in Portugal:: Jorge Roque
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