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Decrimalising Drugs

30 minutes
First broadcast:
Tuesday 16 June 2009

Claudia Hammond travels to Portugal to find out how decrimalising drugs could help addicts.

In 2001, Portugal became the only European country to decriminalise all drugs, from cannabis to heroin. Claudia reports from Lisbon to find out how the policy has affected drug use in the intervening years.

Drug use is still illegal but users are not considered criminals. If caught with drugs, they are most likely to be offered treatment and, if they accept, it is most likely that sanctions will be waived. Claudia visits a drug treatment centre to find out how addicts are helped to kick the habit. She also talks to psychologists at one of Portugal's Dissuasion Commissions to find out how first-time users are discouraged from continuing drug use.

Claudia asks if the Portuguese experiment could ever transfer to the UK.


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