Page last updated June 9, 2020 by Doug McVay, Editor and Senior Policy Analyst.
1. Portuguese Legal Framework On Drugs
"The Portuguese legal framework on drugs changed in November 2000 with the adoption of Law 30/2000, which has been in place since July 2001, which decriminalised illicit drug use and related acts. However, a person caught using or possessing a small quantity of drugs for personal use (established by law, this should not exceed the quantity required or average individual consumption over a period of 10 days), where there is no suspicion of involvement in drug trafficking, will be evaluated by a local Commission for the Dissuasion of Drug Addiction, composed of a lawyer, a doctor and a social worker. Punitive sanctions can be applied, but the main objective is to explore the need for treatment and to promote healthy recovery (Figure 3).
"Drug trafficking may incur a sentence of 1-5 or 4-12 years’ imprisonment, depending on specific criteria, one of these being the nature of the substance supplied. The penalty is reduced for users who sell drugs to finance their own consumption.
"Decree Law 54/2013 was adopted in April 2013. It prohibits the production, export, advertisement, distribution, sale or simple dispensing of NPS named in the list accompanying the Decree Law and sets up a control mechanism for NPS. Administrative sanctions including fines of up to EUR 45 000 can be imposed for offences under this law, while a person caught using NPS, but who is not suspected of having committed another offence, is referred to a local Commission for the Dissuasion of Drug Addiction."
European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (2017), Portugal, Country Drug Report 2017, Publications Office of the European Union, Luxembourg, p. 4.
2. Portugal's Drug Strategy
"Portuguese drug policy is detailed in three strategic documents (National Strategy for the Fight Against Drugs 1999, National Plan Against Drugs and Drug Addiction 2005-12 and National Plan for the Reduction of Addictive Behaviours and Dependencies 2013-20). Launched in 1999 and envisaged as a long-term policy document, the National Strategy for the Fight Against Drugs defines the general objectives in the drug field. The strategy is built around eight principles, six objectives and 13 actions. The National Plan for the Reduction of Addictive Behaviours and Dependences (2013-20) builds on the 1999 strategy and takes a broad and integrated view of drug and addiction problems, including illicit drug use, new psychoactive substances (NPS), alcohol, prescription medications, doping and gambling (Figure 1). It is guided by five overarching objectives and is built around the two pillars of drug demand and drug supply reduction. It consists of two structural measures (the Operational Plan of Integrated Responses (PORI) and the referral network) and four transversal themes (information and research; training and communication; international relations and cooperation; and quality). The National Plan has defined a set of indicators and targets that
European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (2017), Portugal, Country Drug Report 2017, Publications Office of the European Union, Luxembourg, p. 2.
3. Drug Use Prevalence in Portugal
"In the study conducted in 2012 in the Portuguese General Population (15-64), cannabis, ecstasy and cocaine were the illicit substances preferably used by the Portuguese with lifetime prevalence (at least one use experience) respectively of 9.4%, 1.3% and 1.2%. Between 2007 and 2012, in the set of the Portuguese population was verified for almost all drugs a decrease in lifetime prevalence (of any illicit drug from 12% to 9.5%) and recent use (of any illicit drug from 3.7% to 2.7%) as well as decrease in continuity rates of use (of any illicit drug from 31% to 28%). In general, the young adult population (15-34 years) presented lifetime prevalence, recent and continuity rates of use higher than the general prevalence. Near of 0.7% the 15-64 years population and 1.2% of the young adult population resident in Portugal present symptoms of cannabis dependence, corresponding to about a quarter of cannabis users in the last 12 months. The analysis by gender showed lifetime prevalence and recent use are higher men, for all drugs, although some consumption in the female group increased between 2007 and 2012, contrarily to the general pattern of evolution."
General-Directorate for Intervention on Addictive Behaviours and Dependencies (SICAD), "2014 National Report (2013 data) to the EMCDDA by the Reitox National Focal Point: PORTUGAL: New Development, Trends" (Lisbon, Portugal: 2014), p. 6.
4. Changes in Lifetime Prevalence of Substance Use in Portugal, 2007 to 2012
"Between 2007 and 2012 in the set of the Portuguese population there was a general decrease in lifetime prevalence6 (any illicit drug from 12% to 9.5%) and recent use (any illicit drug from 3.7% to 2.7%), with the exception of ecstasy and LSD, whose lifetime prevalence remained the same and LSD use in last 12 months increased slightly.
General-Directorate for Intervention on Addictive Behaviours and Dependencies (SICAD), "2014 National Report (2013 data) to the EMCDDA by the Reitox National Focal Point: PORTUGAL: New Development, Trends" (Lisbon, Portugal: 2014), pp. 26-27.
5. Prevalence of Drug Use Among Youth in Portugal, 2011
"In the context of school populations, the results of national studies have shown that the use of drugs that had been increasing since the 90’s declined for the first time in 2006 and 2007, noting up in 2010 and 2011 again an increase of drug use in these populations, alerting to the need for investment in prevention. In all studies carried out in 2010 and 2011, cannabis remains the drug preferentially used (prevalence of lifetime use ranged from 2.3% in students from 13 years old and 29.7% in 18 years old), with values close to the prevalence of use of any drug (between 4.4% in students of 13 years and 31.2% in 18 years). Followed by prevalence of lifetime use far below, cocaine, ecstasy and amphetamines among younger students, and amphetamines, LSD and ecstasy among the older ones. Despite the increases registered in the prevalence of drug use between 2006/2007 and 2010/2011 especially cannabis but also other drugs such as LSD and amphetamines, the prevalence’s of use of any drug among younger students (13-15 years) remain lower than the ones registered in 2001/2003."
General-Directorate for Intervention on Addictive Behaviours and Dependencies (SICAD), "2013 National Report (2012 data) to the EMCDDA by the Reitox National Focal Point: PORTUGAL: New Development, Trends and in-depth information on selected issues" (Lisbon, Portugal: 2013), p. 7.