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How Portugal Ended Its War on Drugs

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Back in the 1990s, Portugal faced a heroin crisis. Most people knew someone affected by the lethal drug. Just two decades later, the country has one of the lowest drug-related death rates in the world. This dramatic turnaround isn't credited to a hard-line approach, but instead by decriminalizing all drugs. Video by Tom Gibson ---------- Hello World is a Webby and Emmy-nominated video series from Bloomberg that invites the viewer to come on a journey across the globe to find the inventors, scientists and technologists shaping our future. Join journalist and best-selling author Ashlee Vance on a quest to find the freshest, weirdest tech creations and the beautiful freaks behind them. Watch more Hello World episodes: https://www.bloomberg.com/features/2016-hello-world/ Like this video? Subscribe to Bloomberg on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/Bloomberg?sub_confirmation=1 Bloomberg is the First Word in business news, delivering breaking news & analysis, up-to-the-minute market data, features, profiles and more: http://www.bloomberg.com Connect with us on... Twitter: https://twitter.com/business Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/bloombergbusiness Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/bloombergbusiness/ https://www.bloomberg.com/news/videos/2018-05-24/how-portugal-solved-its-heroin-problem-video
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Text Comments (581)
Artificial245 (1 day ago)
Oh and by the way, the taxation needed to treat these people is 40+% for everyone making more than E20,000, the wealthy have fled the country, unemployment is at 8%, debt to GDP is 130%, and they barely even have a military to show for it.
Scott Gibson (3 days ago)
Drugs in the US is a giant cash cow for all , from the drug dealers, the cops working overtime, the court system, lawyers and the prison system. The definition of insanity is doing the same thing expecting different results. Even my family who work in law enforcement say its a waste of time, its a losing battle.
Rio the MadHater (5 days ago)
This wouldn't work in countries like Philippines: Different socio economic backgrounds, cultures and overall government affordability. I think Duterte's solution is alright if only it is all inclusive. Problem is only the poor is hit hard while the drug bosses & well connected are unscathed.
Kiko Alves (7 days ago)
Ai Portugal é tão bom...
Fo Reel (7 days ago)
In Asia, they're strict, and there's hardly any drug use. In the US, we used to be strict, and there was hardly any drug use. You get all the drug deaths you want, based on your choice as to whether you want to let these vermin experiment with these harmful drugs or not, and let them face no serious jail time, if they're just users. The liberal policy is always to throw up their hands and say "there's nothing we can do" about every moral issue. But there is, it worked here in the past, it works in Asia now. Better than Portugal is the Asian approach, and the old approach in the West and America.
Gacheru Mburu (8 days ago)
winwin's tears (8 days ago)
President Duterte, please take some notes from Portugal
Malbabo (9 days ago)
Im Portuguese. Having the lowest drug-related death rate, doesn't mean the problem is "solved". The drug problems still exist. The past month the police apprehended several tons of drugs, off the coast. Difference (from the 90s to now) is people learned more about drugs and are more aware of its problems. However, the number of "light drug" users is going sky-high, due to its use being decriminalized; the results of this will be known in another 20-30 years.
Scott Pratt (10 days ago)
Not enough money to be made that route.
EastCoCo (10 days ago)
Its strange how the US invades the middle east where the opium is plentiful and now theres a opiate crisis going on in the US... The government controls the drugs coming into the country
Lukis o (11 days ago)
This happens when the country actually cares about theyr people
João Pinto (11 days ago)
Ainda bem q o Dr. Jau Gulau apareceu a tempo para resolver o problema!
Raw Sauce (11 days ago)
Never going to happen in the US. Otherwise how would they fill up all their private prisons if drug crimes were pretty much eradicated?
Assassam1 (11 days ago)
Forgiveness and help always works best. Isn't that also what Jesus did republican leadership?
S M (11 days ago)
1 in 100 Jesus Christ that’s a lot
RJ (12 days ago)
Total BS. Portugal had almost 0 to none economic growth in 80/90s in comparison to other European countries and; therefore, obviously such misery caused a lot of people in society to get into such destructive modes and get into drugs as a result. However, Portugal had had an immense amount of investment coming from EU along with a new regulations attracting Foreign Direct investments, for instance, into property markets as well as introducing Foreign immigrant visas in the last few years and as a Result: a lot of that money was used to physically clean up big cities plus construction jobs contributed to a massive property boom, for instance, in Lisbon, and which is still undergoing at the moment. Therefore, more job => less time to go crazy => better focus => resulting in changes in priorities => a small group of people starts getting active =>everybody else follow
Ray Hoodoo (12 days ago)
1% of the population? I can't believe that. What population? Whole population? Then take into consideration how many adults used heroin, if we subtract children and the elderly who probably didn't use heroin, or at least not as much.
Ray Hoodoo (10 days ago)
low? it's seems like a lot, man! especially, including children and elders. of adult population then 20% used heroin? 30%? seems unreal.
João Pinto (11 days ago)
Ray Hoodoo probably the includes childrens, that's why that number seems low, because probably they don't consume drugs, so 100 thousand persons did use heroin back in time...
MrGoodkat (12 days ago)
Legalisation and regulation of drugs and treatment of addicts with wider education in the dangers of addictive drugs is the only sensible way forward.
Joseph Breen (12 days ago)
The problem with the “war on drugs” is that the war was planned out in a way to fatten the pockets of the private prison system and the private rehab facilities throughout the country... look at what Bush did in 2003... he invaded the Middle East.. Afghanistan was one of the countries that was invaded and has the largest poppy seed fields in the entire world... the US lost control of the marijuana and cocaine supply coming from Hispanic countries So they needed a new drug to push and control... this is where we Are, people.. wake up!
Joseph Breen (12 days ago)
And I’m not trying to sound like a conspiracy theorist... but if you look at the correlation between us invading poppy-seed-field-rich counties and the opioid epidemic we are facing today... it adds up...
Greasy nPoor (12 days ago)
America seems to do everything wrong when u dont look at things through a greedy mans eyes. The money made on lock ups and prisons and rehabs and all the BS that goes with it is the reason america does what it does.
LyleGlenn (12 days ago)
Comparing Portugal (10M inhabitants) to the US (325M)... Have you heard of "per capita" ;-)
Filippo Mazza (13 days ago)
This video does not explain at all how they ended the war, if ever started. The war is not on people, allowed to have small amounts, but on trafficking!
Marco Ruiz (13 days ago)
For all of those who say the US should do this, the use is literally 100+x the size of Portugal, bigger population, more land area makes this solution incomprehensible in the US
eta carinae (13 days ago)
Yeah right here in Portugal there are tons of drug dealers and junkies
Ilia Botvinnik (13 days ago)
I agree. Every adult should have a right to medicate themselves. Use of dangerous drugs should be discouraged and treated; instead, we are throwing billions of dollars at the "War on Drugs," with absolutely no win or even a noticeable change in sight!
Hesu Crispy (13 days ago)
@President Duterte
MossimoH2o (13 days ago)
Or less on enforcement and more on punishment
Brosky999 (14 days ago)
this would be beneficial to the US but we criminalize everything here. the truth is so much money is made off of incarcerating people rather than helping them. this country is so backwards.
Imani Imani (14 days ago)
Augustus Mussolini (14 days ago)
I like the Philippine way better
stephan daoust (14 days ago)
They kicked out the CIA...
Raka Pratama (14 days ago)
Portugal success should lead to campaign to end the literal war on drugs, and move on to metaphorical war on drugs, by doing harm reductions
vladimir makarov (14 days ago)
Women started giving guys blow jobs and so women couldn't sell sex for drugs and the men are happy that they are getting bjs that they don't turn to drugs
Jagioh Blackflag (14 days ago)
All countries should follow Portugal's example on this. When a country does something right, other countries should learn from it.
Nsatiro (14 days ago)
Salazar was a great hero. Not dictator
Nsatiro (11 days ago)
As mentiras dos comunistas.. Estam a cair em desuso.. A verdade emergiu devagar..
João Pinto (11 days ago)
Nsatiro wtf? Ahaha
Meester Writer (14 days ago)
and now the problem's 10 times worse. got offered drugs at the fucking airport as i flew in this week, seen two junkies stumbling along the road trying to flag cars down to beg for money.
Joe Blow (14 days ago)
this is bs coming from big business to sway you. it's an agenda so they can get into the drug business (like what's happening with marijuana right now). whatever happened with other countries(1% b.s.), I can assure you won't apply here. and do not forget, this country(USA), is a market place First!! business prevails, and if there's no business model for it, there soon will be and it will be abused(policy, that is).
Gregory Smith (14 days ago)
Can't have a rise in illegal drug use if it's legal
Super HankHill (14 days ago)
Defeat your enemy by helping those allied to it, truly an effective approach.
Gus Bus (14 days ago)
Too much money in keeping it illegal. I have no idea why prostitution is still illegal. law doesn’t dictate morality
Rose Knapp (14 days ago)
Props to Bloomberg for this actually rational take, meanwhile mainstream America is like ‘more police should somehow alleviate this largely self-created crisis?
Joel Martins (14 days ago)
sean strickland (15 days ago)
Prescription drugs is way worse in the states..
Outdoorsguy (15 days ago)
Here in America, the private prison industry lobbies for the War on Drugs, California's 3 strikes law, and influences legislation that keeps more people behind bars and longer.
Sourish Saha (15 days ago)
Pakistan and Afghanistan ia always this shit
Sourish Saha (15 days ago)
the world should file this also.. drug is a bag thing
Alexandra Dun (15 days ago)
Mr G Gaming 2.0 Potato (15 days ago)
Only took 19 years
sayak das (15 days ago)
War on Drugs done right.
Supahtripp X (15 days ago)
Now do a video like this on the Philippines
john doe (15 days ago)
Trump doesn't believe Portugal is real so this system will never help the US.
huge creature (15 days ago)
Its never gonna stop in the usa unless we stop voting for business people we should really stop trump and his team of rascals are gonna doom the usa because all they care about is making more money even if it kills people
AvangionQ (15 days ago)
Portugal has turned their drug problem around by treating addiction as a medical issue, not a criminal one ... we need to adopt their policies to see the same thing happen here.
Daniel Spinosa (15 days ago)
Yellow Penetrator (15 days ago)
Why can’t every other county understand this prove right now?
Humod Albadr (15 days ago)
I thought this was a meme
Fagot Reich (15 days ago)
Governments should sell and subsidize drugs and drag their prices so low it would put the dealers out of bussiness. They make the profit on top. If you cant fight the devil make him work for you
MiguelPpM (8 days ago)
Anthony Wijaya (15 days ago)
Countries around the world should follow Portugal.
Deemz (15 days ago)
This is what all countries should do
mama nomeusako (16 days ago)
How portugal had heroin crisis? The country had no weed or hax And beggin to have only heroin I know people of this generation that was hooked The weed crisis wqs created by govermnt to sell heroin
Marela9 (16 days ago)
I was born in the mid 90s so I had no idea Portugal had a heroine crisis. Goes to show they sorted things well.
Bruno R. (16 days ago)
República das Bananas...
OG Deadeye (16 days ago)
Charge anyone who sells heroin with murder, as that's what it is, slowly murdering someone. Hand out the death penalty in every case and I promise you heroin will be gone within a year
Milenko Jakovljević (16 days ago)
it won't look at us states where murder gives death penalty within a year of law did everybody stop murdering others no so....
Milenko Jakovljević (16 days ago)
it won't tell me in the us is nobody murdering anyone
Daniel R (16 days ago)
Lol look at Portugals population before watching this video. Then look at America's and lol at the percent change.
Jacob Wakefield (16 days ago)
This is still nuts. Why aren't they just legal!
edmarty gonzales (16 days ago)
Portugal doesn't have drug cartels?
MegaKapo12 (16 days ago)
I thought this would be a mistake at the time as it wasn't really explained and a bit of fearmongery from the conservatives but time has proved it to be the right thing to do.
hyou zan ren (16 days ago)
US can't do this because every convicts mean more money for prison owners!
Aulona Lm (16 days ago)
This is literally a Vox copycat
Jammy James (16 days ago)
This is what other countries should do as well in my opinion
Tenac 300 (16 days ago)
the only thing the can remove drugs from society is the death penalty.
Tenac 300 (16 days ago)
Democracy caused the drug problem
Abstract slut (16 days ago)
Duterte could learn from this :v
AwkwardPanda (16 days ago)
The Philippines should take notes.
Johnlanzer (16 days ago)
AwkwardPanda There are large rehabilitation centers being built to accomodate the drug-users who surrendered. But none of it being covered by the media. All protests yet no help to handle the millions of afflicted.
Sebas G (16 days ago)
Portugal can be smart when it needs to.
Asahel (16 days ago)
Well thats only applicable if the user reached rock bottom, that approach wont be effective nywhere and i think thats not the reason why.
JoJiJoJo (16 days ago)
I'm from the USA and I've always said that we should just legalize or decriminalize all drugs. It works obviously.
BillionaireFred (16 days ago)
I'm portuguese, and I can tell you, even though cocaine and heroin aren't that common anymore, 80 to 90% of teenagers smoked or smoke haxixe or has we call it here (ganza)
Bo Franco (11 days ago)
Lies. Absolute lies
KnarfLean Llabantines (12 days ago)
cala a boca e faz a tua otário
Joseph Breen (12 days ago)
BillionaireFred marijuana at a young age ex: under 18, will have deviating effects on future brain development... I think once you reach a certain age you should be allowed to smoke or consume marijuana however you like... but, like alcohol, there should be an age limit...
SmiteWithStrawHat (14 days ago)
Tenho que discordar dessa percentagem, 80% e 90% é exagerar muito, só se viveres numa zona péssima em relação a isso. Eu até aceitaria uns 20 - 30%, porque a realidade é que encontras ganza com a maior das facilidades, mas daí a dizer que quase 100% dos adolescentes fumam, é um bom bocado :P. Para teres uma ideia, na escola secundária que eu andava, em 300 alunos não acredito que mais de 30 - 40 fumem.
BillionaireFred (15 days ago)
Emanuel Miranda gente que eu me dou, e gente que apenas conheço de vista
Psycho Fury (17 days ago)
Did he say "over 100 people were using the drug" at the start lol?
Alexo (16 days ago)
Psycho Fury One in a hundred
Muhammad waleed (17 days ago)
Stupidity about Pakistan, there is no damn thing in Pakistan,
Ellie Garcia (17 days ago)
Wow. The things I don't know about my own country. Except for the 75' revolution, of course.
Lisboa Garage (17 days ago)
Now 40% Are alcoolic!
Lisboa Garage (17 days ago)
With another drugs, brupernofina, and meradona.
Norman (17 days ago)
In the Philippines we are in the stage of: 90% Enforcement and 10% Health Care. And it seems this video is telling the truth.
Aswin Ramachandran (17 days ago)
I support Philippines president deutrete on his approach on drugs
Johnlanzer (16 days ago)
Aswin Ramachandran Duterte is using the carrot and stick method. Just need to have the new larger rebah centers to be completed.
Josh Pollack (17 days ago)
We now have examples of both sides of this argument of drug legalization in extremes on full display in two different countries at exactly the same time. here use and death has gone down, peace has come. things are looking like they are going to get better, and people are happier. in the Philippines 7,000 people have been murdered by their government and it shows no signs of decreasing. In the United States the police have become so militarized they have been killing unarmed children. Drug use is up.
Josh Pollack (16 days ago)
and duterte's people still has a drug use problem.
Josh Pollack (16 days ago)
yeah. *OR* no deaths, no military, just mutual respect and a goddamn helping hand
Johnlanzer (16 days ago)
Josh Pollack 7000 killed along 2 years since Duterte's drug war but everyone forgot the 1 million who surrendered and under rehab programs.
Doktor Skeletor (17 days ago)
Just kill the dealers like based deurte does.
The Legion (17 days ago)
Ayyy Portugal!
DeShawn Michaelson (17 days ago)
Wait - so you've only cut it in half - in exchange for coddling a generation of highly expensive addicts ? Expensive Treatment programs increased 400%, and you only cut addiction by half.
Jeffrey Phillip (17 days ago)
That's dope...
Shrek Dank (17 days ago)
The only people who wont drugs legalised are those that take drugs
NiceBlock (17 days ago)
if only we could fix our politicians like we did with the drugs problem
They forgot to mention that this project obliterated our national health care system budget. But hey... At least we now have less junkies around.
João Raimundo (18 days ago)
TUGA CRLH!!!!🇵🇹🇵🇹🇵🇹
Amit Kumar Saha (18 days ago)
Purple Jak (18 days ago)
Every Trump supporter watching this video "wait so I can't blame immigrants/refugees/black people/liberals for my family being addicted to drugs I have to blame the government??"
Purple Jak (17 days ago)
Noristunwulf didn't you just stereotype me spastically? Hypocrite
Noristunwulf (18 days ago)
Nothing like spastic stereotyping from the left.
nvmffs (18 days ago)
What kind of bullshit was that? Less people use heroin because they jumped on other types of drugs. More people in rehab because more people take drugs. Simple as that.
Truly Infamous (18 days ago)
That's what my mom has always said we should do. America always seems to do everything wrong.
Cory (10 days ago)
Truly Infamous America does everything wrong? Then move to Mexico and skip around under a rainbow if you don't like it.
Joseph Breen (12 days ago)
Y’all missing the big picture... Bush invaded the Middle East 2003... the rise in opioid and heroin crisis correlates with the invasion of Afghanistan... wake up, people! USA planned what’s happening now... much more to go into but don’t want to get banned or anything along those lines...
Marco Ruiz (13 days ago)
Mwakinificent The US has the highest GDP in the world, higher than economic superpowers like Germany and China, so what the actual fuck are you talking about?
Ike Okereke (13 days ago)
Ichthusk Primary education is paid for in the United States.
Ike Okereke (13 days ago)
Mwakinificent No it doesn't.
Yora (18 days ago)
Sad thing is that this is all well known for decades.
MrPieman00 (18 days ago)
Meanwhile the philipines kills anyone whose eyes even laid on drugs.

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