Case Studies / Activities

Legislation and policy concerning drug use vary widely across the world. In 2001 Portugal implemented a nationwide law which decriminalised all drugs, including cocaine and heroin. Read the paper, Drug Decriminalization in Portugal: Lessons for Creating Fair and Successful Drug Policies, by Greenwald (2009) of the Cato Institute and assess what could be learned from Portugal’s approach (in addition you may wish to read the brief fact sheet, Drug Criminalization in Portugal: A Health-Centred Approach, produced by the Drug Policy Alliance (2015) which provides a comment on the longer term implications of Portugal’s approach). Think about what lessons there may be for the UK and in particular how such a law would impact on social work support for people misusing substances.

Portugal is not the only country to decriminalise drugs (a brief overview of the position of other countries can be found in this Telegraph article, Drug laws around the world - does anyone get it right? by Graham (2014) and the debate  around legalisation/ decriminalisation of all or some drugs is gathering pace worldwide. This paper by Stauffer (2016), Every 25 Seconds: The Human Toll of Criminalizing Drug Usde in the United States, sets out a case for decriminalisation in the USA and this article from the Guardian (2016), Canada to introduce legislation to decriminalize recreational cannabis, refers to developments in Canada

How do you see these debates playing out in a UK context and what are the implications for people with substance problems?