Following a bloodless coup in the 1970s, Portugal saw an influx of drugs come into the country, resulting in one percent of the population being addicted to heroin. Fourteen years ago, the country took a somewhat unprecedented approach to solving its significant problem: decriminalizing all drugs.
“If you were found in possession of less than a 10-day supply of anything — from marijuana to heroin — you would be sent to a three-person commission to talk about drug addiction. It was a lawyer, a doctor and a social worker, and the commission would recommend treatment or a minor fine, otherwise you were sent off without penalty,” Glenn said Wednesday on radio.
Addicts, rather than being imprisoned, received treatment.
While the problem became worse at first, the long-term results have been somewhat impressive. Both the use of drugs and drug-induced deaths have dropped significantly.
“It’s actually working in Portugal. It’s the Libertarian dream,” Glenn said.
Listen to this segment from The Glenn Beck Program:
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This is a rush transcript and may contain errors.
GLENN: You know the story of Portugal. Portugal had a really bad authoritarian regime back in the ’70s. There was a bloodless coup. I think it was the Carnation Rebellion or something like that. Bloodless coup takeover. It went unstable for a while.
And drugs — because they had — Portugal had let go of all of their colonies, all of the soldiers come back — and they being — bring all kinds of drugs with them.
And so this liberalization of — of — or democratization of their country and the influx of all these guys coming in from all over the world with all these drugs, one percent of the Portuguese population was addicted to heroine. One percent.
GLENN: So they did what we do. And they did a War on Drugs. And it got worse. And so they made it even stronger. And another War on Drugs. And it got worse.
And so in — I think it was 2001, they started something — yeah, 2001, they started — they decided, let’s go the entirely opposite way. Let’s decriminalize all drugs.
GLENN: So if you were found in possession of less than a ten-day supply of anything from marijuana to heroine, you would be sent to a three-person commission to talk about drug addiction. It was a lawyer, a doctor, and a social worker, and the commission would recommend treatment or a minor fine, otherwise you were sent off without penalty.
Vast majority of time, no penalty. You just go in front of these guys, and they were like, what were you doing? I don’t know. I just had some drugs. My friends and I were going to party.
Okay. Go ahead.
If you’re addicted to heroine, you get treatment. If you’re addicted, you get treatment.
You know, if you’re a criminal, then, you know, you might receive a penalty.
So what has — what has happened? At first, things got worse. For the first year, everybody was like, “Heroine, I can buy it over-the-counter. I’m going to buy heroine.” At first it got worse.
JEFFY: Which you would expect.
PAT: So they literally legalized —
STU: Well, they decriminalized it.
PAT: They decriminalized.
GLENN: They decriminalized.
So was it available without a prescription?
GLENN: Yes. Well, you would just buy it, but it wasn’t illegal to go to a drug dealer and buy it.
STU: Well, I mean, I think the way that works, you can’t go buy it at stores. You can’t go to like the heroine store. But if you get caught with it, they don’t put you in prison.
PAT: Okay. That’s decriminalization.
GLENN: It’s still black market.
PAT: That’s not legalizing. It’s just saying, we find you with it, we’re not going to put you in jail for it.
GLENN: Correct. So here is — if you look at the charts — I don’t even know, how would you describe this chart, boy? This is the use of drugs, and these are the drug-induced deaths.
STU: Both dropped.
STU: Yeah, particularly the deaths dropped significantly.
GLENN: It’s actually working in Portugal. It’s the Libertarian dream. It is stop spending all the money and spending the money on the war. Spending the money on prison. Spending the — the time and energy, trying to stop the criminals across the border, which we are just making into billionaires. Stop it.
Do what we did with prohibition. Reverse it. And all of those problems go away. And let people handle it themselves with some government intervention, where if you’re really seriously addicted, then we give you treatment.
He talked about treatment last night.
STU: Yeah, and it does seem like — because there’s been some reporting on the fact that they might go and start — you know, implementing and following through with the federal laws on marijuana again. Because obviously a lot of states have decided on their own that they’re no longer going to worry about marijuana.
PAT: And there’s going to be more and more.
STU: And there’s going to be more and more.
PAT: It’s going to spread.
STU: Yes. However, it’s still federally illegal. So if you’re in Colorado and you have some, well, you might be okay with Colorado law, but you’re not okay with federal law. And so they could still theoretically go and try to enforce that.
GLENN: Federal law — federal law trumps —
PAT: Yes. As the supremacy clause notes, federal law does — it doesn’t — they don’t call it, it trumps the state law, but it supersedes. And they don’t even say it supersedes, but it does. I mean, it just does.
STU: It does.
GLENN: Federal law is the law of the land.
STU: So the current way — with Obama, he basically — and he didn’t entirely ignore it. There were still some — still some issues with that, that Libertarians complained about loudly. But overall, he basically said, well, if you’re going to have it illegal there, we’re not doing federal raids for marijuana.
GLENN: You can’t — we have to — we have to justify our laws. We have to justify — we have to decide. If the states are going that way, well, then — I mean, you want to talk about states’ rights. Nobody seems to have a problem with the states’ rights there.
But you cannot have the federal law and the state law in conflict. You want to talk about a constitutional crisis — everybody in the press was talking about a constitutional crisis. The first day that Donald Trump come in —
STU: He said something bad about. The media. Constitutional crisis! No, that’s not a constitutional crisis.
GLENN: No, that’s not a constitutional crisis. This is. This is a constitutional crisis.
PAT: Yeah, it is. When you have states and any municipality ignoring federal law with immigration, ignoring federal law with drug laws, you’re going to have chaos.
GLENN: Right. So you have to — the federal government has to decide: Are we going to hold these cities accountable for disagreeing, or are we going to change the federal law?
STU: Right. I mean, there’s also, you know, Supreme Court element and other things that can happen before constitutional crisis. But, I mean, there is that — it’s a bizarre standard. And it’s happening the same thing — sanctuary cities are another example of it.
STU: It’s really the same premise.