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OPINION: Since the start of the century, Portugal has shown that decriminalisation of drug use is possible

Dr Nuno Capaz of the Lisbon Drug Addiction Dissuasion Commission gives his view on the drug policy debate. / YouTube

It’s not going to be the end of the world if you deal with it as a healthcare issue. The healthcare system is able to provide answers much more quickly and much more direct to the point of the problem.

Portugal decriminalised the use of illegal drugs in 2001, a move which experts say has led to a ”spectacular” reduction in the number of infections among intravenous users and a significant drop in drug-related crimes.

The country did not legalise drug use, but compelled people caught with banned substances to appear in front of special addiction panels rather than in a criminal court.

Dr Nuno Capaz, Vice-President of the Lisbon Drug Addiction Dissuasion Commission, is in Dublin to lend his support to a new report backing the decriminalisation of people who use drugs in Ireland. 

The report, by the Ana Liffey Drugs Project, backs the findings of an Oireachtas committee which recommended a civil response rather than a criminal justice response to drug offences. 

Dr Capaz argues that Portugal has not ended the war on drugs, but that it has ended the war on people who use drugs. 

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