Portugal, land of port and nostalgic tramways, is since years a leading nation in the world with a liberal depenalized approach to drugs. Not merely cannabis, but drugs in general.
Yet, at the same time, personal use and possession are technically illegal when not used within a strictly regulated medical program.
Currently the situation in Portugal is that users can receive a possible administrative penalty — rather than a criminal one — when possessing more than the amount required for 10 days of treatment. Users may also be referred to therapy programs. Dealing and growing still falls under Portuguese criminal law.
Overall the Portuguese “depenalization” is similar to the the Dutch “tolerance” of cannabis, albeit it being more widespread and also covering other substances like heroin. The new law, effective since 2001, was also in response to high levels of addiction and high HIV rates among drug users.
Earlier this month, two Portuguese parties, the Left Bloc and the People-Animals-Nature (PAN), submitted bills to the Portuguese parliament to legalize recreational cannabis use.
Both bills, submitted few days apart on respectively Jan. 7 and Jan. 12, aim to regulate the availability of cannabis and to thus protect public health and safety.
“The law aims to protect people from the risks of illegal trade and drug-trafficking, as well as the health, social and economic consequences that the irresponsible and uninformed use of psychoactive substances can have on society.”
— Regulating Adult Use of Cannabis” bill, by the People-Animal-Nature party (PAN)
Both bills would allow people to grow plants at home, upto six in the PAN bill and upto 5 in the bill introduced by the Left Bloc. Seeds would only be allowed to be purchased from licensed outlets.
Both bills also set the legal age at 18 — that’s right, Europeans “mature” earlier. Usual implementations like no sales outlets or public consumption near playgrounds or schools are also included.
“The main objective of responsible and safe legalisation of recreational cannabis should always be the reduction of problem consumption, the effective fight against drug trafficking and associated crime”
—“Legalizing Cannabis for Personal Use” bill, by Left Bloc party
Both bills are carefully written, probably in order to increase their chances at finding support from other politicians and parties. The Left Bloc’s bill would outlaw cannabis edibles and synthetic cannabis products. The PAN bill would also require that the price of cannabis is set lower than the average blackmarket price.
Voting on either bill could be imminent but widespread support is not expected. The Socialist Party has indicated it will abstain from voting, despite its lawmaker Jamila Madeira considering the bill a “natural evolution” of Portugal’s drug policy, as per Politico news outlet.
If either bill passes, or a combination of both, Portugal — which according to the INCB is the third largest cultivator of medical marijuana — is set to become the first European country to fully legalize recreational cannabis use.
Source: The Portugal News