However, much has happened since it went up, including the Blogger outage. Scroll down for a report on that. More new posts will be added below this one. The essay below is the conclusion of the ninth part in a series by Takuan Seiyo.
Arriving in his small office in Lisbon, the year-old Anti-drug legislation essay his jacket aside, leaving his shirt collar crooked. He adds his latest piece of mail to the mountain of papers on his desk.
One gram of heroin, two grams of cocaine, 25 grams of marijuana leaves or five grams of hashish: These are the drug quantities one can legally purchase and possess in Portugal, carrying them through the streets of Lisbon in a pants pocket, say, without fear of repercussion.
MDMA -- the active ingredient in ecstasy -- and amphetamines -- including speed and meth -- can also be possessed in amounts up to one gram. Portugal paved a new path when it decided to decriminalize drugs of all kinds. How can a government keep its citizens from taking dangerous drugs?
One way is to crack down on those who provide the drugs -- the cartels, the middle men and the street dealers. Another approach is to focus on the customers -- arresting them, trying them and imprisoning them.
Legal prosecution -- as both a control mechanism and a deterrent -- is the chosen approach for most governments. Pinto Coelho wants his country to return to normalcy, in the form of the tough war on drugs that much of the rest of the world conducts.
Pinto Coelho is a doctor too. He has run rehab centers and written books about addiction. His greatest concern is that his country has given up on the idea of a drug-free world. How, Pinto Coelho asks, is it possible to keep young people away from drugs, when everyone knows exactly how many pills can legally be carried around?
He still believes deterrents are the best form of prevention and that cold turkey withdrawal is the best treatment method. He is also fighting the extensive methadone program Portugal began as part of its drug policy reform, which now provides tens of thousands of heroin addicts with this substitute drug.
As if offering proof, he shows a fact sheet issued by the United States Office of National Drug Control Policy, a brief and skeptically worded report on the Portuguese experiment. InPortugal broke free from nearly 50 years of military dictatorship, a political shift symbolized by the carnations soldiers stuck in the muzzles of their rifles.
He was in his early twenties and "drugs promised us freedom. At that point, he says, the heroin epidemic was just beginning. In the s, cheap heroin from Afghanistan and Pakistan began flooding Europe.
The number of people taking illegal drugs in Portugal was low compared with other countries, but of those who did consume drugs, an unusually high number of them fell into the category that specialists in this field refer to as "problem drug users.
This is the number of severely drug-addicted people in Portugal at the height of the epidemic, in the mids. The number of drug addicts who became infected with HIV was also considerably higher than in most other countries.
A drug slum formed in Lisbon, at the edge of a neighborhood known as Casal Ventoso. Here junkies slept in shacks or in the garbage, in extremely poor conditions. Anyone in Portugal could observe this phenomenon -- on TV, in newspaper pictures or even from the nearby highway.Return of the King.
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