Information on drugs consumption in Lisbon, Portugal

While we here at Oasis Hostels do not condone the use of drugs while visiting the Portuguese capital, we do know drugs exists, and believe a little information can go along way to having a safe visit. Drug consumption in Portugal is discrete, and if you are going to light up or anything else make sure you follow this etiquette:

Drug consumption in Portugal is discrete, and if you are going to light up or anything else make sure you follow this etiquette. Never smoke indoors or at bars or clubs. Personal consumption is no longer a criminal offense in Portugal. “Personal consumption” is defined by quantity. The law rather vaguely states that you can have in your possession enough for personal use for a few days. If you decide you need to carrying anything on you the best best is to have a little as possible. DO NOT buy drugs from anyone that approaches you on the streets, especially in the Baixa and Bairro Alto areas. Again, to be completely safe you should avoid the use of drugs all together while visiting our beautiful Portuguese city.

For much of the 20th century, Portugal was a closed, Catholic society, with a military dictator and no drug education. In the early 1970s, young Portuguese men were drafted to fight wars in the country’s African colonies, where many were exposed to drugs for the first time. Some came home addicted. In 1974, there was a revolution — and an explosion of freedom. By the 1990s, 1 percent of Portugal’s population was hooked on heroin. It was one of the worst drug epidemics in the world, and it prompted Portugal’s government to take a novel approach: It decriminalized all drugs. Starting in 2001, possession or use of any drug — even heroin — has been treated as a health issue, not a crime.  The possession of small quantities of those drugs was shifted to a public-health — rather than criminal — issue. And rather than getting arrested for a small amount, you get sent to a “dissuasion commission,” where a doctor, lawyer, and social worker prescribe treatment or give you a fine.

According to the paper “Drug Decriminalization in Portugal: A Health-Centered ApproachDrug Decriminalization in Portugal: A Health-Centered Approach“: Portugal enacted one of the most extensive drug law reforms in the world when it decriminalized low-level possession and use of all illicit drugs nearly a decade and a half ago. Results of the Portuguese experience demonstrate that drug decriminalization – alongside a serious investment in treatment and harm reduction services – can significantly improve public safety and health.

More information on Portuguese drug laws can be found at We Hate Saudade, a blog run by and for Lisbon Lovers and and The EMCDDA.

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