Is this surprising at all?

The question is, does the new policy work? At the time, critics in the poor, socially conservative and largely Catholic nation said decriminalizing drug possession would open the country to “drug tourists” and exacerbate Portugal’s drug problem; the country had some of the highest levels of hard-drug use in Europe. But the recently released results of a report commissioned by the Cato Institute, a libertarian think tank, suggest otherwise.

The paper, published by Cato in April, found that in the five years after personal possession was decriminalized, illegal drug use among teens in Portugal declined and rates of new HIV infections caused by sharing of dirty needles dropped, while the number of people seeking treatment for drug addiction more than doubled.

“Judging by every metric, decriminalization in Portugal has been a resounding success,” says Glenn Greenwald, an attorney, author and fluent Portuguese speaker, who conducted the research. “It has enabled the Portuguese government to manage and control the drug problem far better than virtually every other Western country does.”

This is no surprise. Making criminals out of people who aren’t criminals will cost you money, not manage any actual problems, and, well, create criminals. That is what the U.S. prison system’s goal has become. There is no interest in humans, just procedure.

Compared to the European Union and the U.S., Portugal’s drug use numbers are impressive. Following decriminalization, Portugal had the lowest rate of lifetime marijuana use in people over 15 in the E.U.: 10%. The most comparable figure in America is in people over 12: 39.8%. Proportionally, more Americans have used cocaine than Portuguese have used marijuana.

The Cato paper reports that between 2001 and 2006 in Portugal, rates of lifetime use of any illegal drug among seventh through ninth graders fell from 14.1% to 10.6%; drug use in older teens also declined. Lifetime heroin use among 16-to-18-year-olds fell from 2.5% to 1.8% (although there was a slight increase in marijuana use in that age group). New HIV infections in drug users fell by 17% between 1999 and 2003, and deaths related to heroin and similar drugs were cut by more than half. In addition, the number of people on methadone and buprenorphine treatment for drug addiction rose to 14,877 from 6,040, after decriminalization, and money saved on enforcement allowed for increased funding of drug-free treatment as well.

At every turn, decriminalization works for society as a whole. Things like this are why Europe is lightyears ahead of the U.S.

I’ve never personally tried any drugs beyond the (very) occasional drink or celebratory cigar (which was pointless), so I can’t say I have a direct personal interest in decriminalization, but I certainly have a very slightly less direct interest. Namely, I pay taxes. I’d rather not pay the government to create criminals which help to support mobs, gangs, pimps, and other nefarious individuals and groups.

I want to start a meme

Chad Farnan is an idiot

Anytime someone thinks something truly stupid, he’s such a Chad Farnan. You think Earth began during the agricultural revolution? You’re a Chad Farnan. You think think the government should sanction your crack pottery? You’re a Chad Farnan.

UPDATE: What am I thinking? This should clearly be the meme: You believe Earth is as old as the domestication of the dog? You’re Farnan stupid.