July 2001, Portugal adopted Law 30/2000. The possession of illicit drugs remained prohibited and the cultivation or trafficking of illicit drugs remained a criminal offense. However, the consumption, purchase, and possession of illicit drugs for personal use – defined as the quantity sufficient for 10 days’ usage for one person – became administrative offenses to be referred to the CDDA – Commissions for the Dissuasion of Drug Addiction instead of the Portuguese criminal justice system.
What does that mean exactly? Well, if you are caught on the street with no more than 10-day supply of illicit drugs (25 grams or .882 of an ounce of Marijuana, 2 grams of Cocaine, 5 grams of Hashish, 1 gram of Heroin, or 5 pills of Ecstasy, you are not charged as a criminal but charged with an administrative offense and referred to the CDDA for treatment, even if the police know that you are a street dealer. The new Portuguese law views you not as a criminal, but an individual requiring treatment of a disease.
So, have the number of street dealers holding less than 10-day supplies increased? You bet they have!
“In fact nowadays in Portugal that some insist on preaching as a role-model to the world, if one walks alone through any crowded street in Lisbon’s Bairro Alto or in certain populated spots of historical downtown, are likely to be approached by individuals sneakily alluring with hashish, cocaine and others on their swift hands, even in broad daylight. Such daring characters were inexistent 5 years ago in places like these.” There is a growing sense of fearlessness in the selling of small quantity drugs, since most police officers find it unworthy of their attention and effort.
But, what did the mentors of this new Portugal law have in mind when they idealized it?
Their belief was that by eliminating the social stigma of guilt associated with criminal drug consumption, users would be more willing to enroll in drug dissuasion programs. This is based on the conception that most addicts avoid treatment for the fear of criminal charges.
The psychologist in this video explains why comparing the harm caused by alcohol versus marijuana is incorrect. Your body can metabolize alcohol and eliminate it from the body. Marijuana gets stored in the fat cells in your brain and stays there for a very long time. This is especially dangerous during the time your brain is still growing, which is into the twenties. This is why marijuana is especially bad for grade school and high school kids, even adults. So enough of the nonsense that marijuana is a harmless drug!
“Video: Is marijuana harmless?”
You got to differentiate between people who are just using and people who are addicted. Not every single drug user is an addict. Some people are experimenting. Other people control their usage. And people who are addicted may only be psychologically addicted in which case it's usually possible to quit or at least drastically reduce one's use without treatment.
No. People who use illicit drugs do not necessarily have a disease. Whether or not something is classified as an illicit drug is a simply a classification made my the legislature or governing body of a country. These decisions are often made simply based on public opinion or a representative's desire to get elected, not whether a drug is actually harmful or destructive. The more important question is whether or not a person has an addiction. Does their illicit drug use affect their personal or professional life in a negative way? If drug use is getting in the way of completing one's work or having meaningful relationships, then yes, it has become a disease and should be classified as such.
People use drugs because they can make the body feel good. It makes it very easy for the body to reward itself with pleasure, as opposed to working hard for it, such as the adrenaline effect of going for a very long run. Our bodies always crave pleasure and reward, so to say a person is diseased because they use certain means in pursuit of that nature instinct is wrong. That is not to say in some cases people develop an addiction which becomes a disease.