Portugal’s drug policy pays off; US eyes lessons

LISBON, Portugal – These days, Casal Ventoso is an ordinary blue-collar community — mothers push baby strollers, men smoke outside cafes, buses chug up and down the cobbled main street. Ten years ago, the Lisbon neighborhood was a hellhole, a “drug supermarket” where some 5,000 users lined up every day to buy heroin and sneak into a hillside honeycomb of derelict housing to shoot up. In dark, stinking corners, addicts — some with maggots squirming under track marks — staggered between the occasional corpse, scavenging used, bloody needles. At that time, Portugal, like the junkies of Casal Ventoso, had hit rock bottom: An estimated 100,000 people — an astonishing 1 percent of its population — were addicted to illegal drugs. So, like anyone with little to lose, the Portuguese took a risky leap: They decriminalized the use of all drugs in a groundbreaking law in 2000. Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/world/2010/12/26/portugals-drug-policy-pays-eyes-lesso…

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