Portugal and the War on Drugs: Compare it to Mexico

I’m not exactly sure why the War on Drugs so intrigues me, but I think it partially has to do with the disaster of extreme addiction being somehow related to all of us, in some subtle way. Further, our fear and sometimes hatred of harm reduction for others (and ultimately ourselves) reminds me so much of our human limitations on compassion and self-exploration.

Incidentally, this harm reduction limitation reveals itself everywhere, including our relationship to the health care system and our tolerance of and even support for feeding children food that encourages sickness, among countless other places.

Anyway, a provocative article here in Time magazine on Portugal’s approach to drugs and addiction. These statistics from Portugal, of course, are neither definitive nor the answer to a varied and profoundly difficult complex, but they are instructive, to say the least.

With a compassionate eye, at the bottom of the article, check out the photos on the hell being paid in Mexico and across the border—for citizens, plain ol’ folks, no different than you or I—for the abject failure known as the War on Drugs.

The War on Drugs policies appear to foster an increase in five crucial, social disasters: 1) a climate of excessive incarceration, 2) astronomical wealth for illegal activities, 3) property crime via the users, 4) the temptation of pay-offs to police and government through threat and bribe, and 5) violence that ensues from all four. Further, it does so little, if anything, for limiting drug use, as US statistics of drug use seem to show.

So ask yourself who benefits?

The above also tend to further marginalize disenfranchised groups, as is seen with indigenous peoples in Canada, and blacks in the States.

And finally, the underbelly of the War On Drugs has helped fund covert and even less-than-covert wars.

Here’s to intelligent, pragmatic and compassionate harm reduction (which expands to harm reduction for society) for anyone in psychic or physical pain,



Leave a Reply