The Portuguese Parliament voted last Thursday to decriminalize the possession of marijuana.
Marijuana use and the consumption of other previously illegal drugs will now be considered a medical condition as opposed to a criminal justice problem and users will receive treatment instead of jail time.
"The idea is to get away from punishment towards treatment," said Carlos Borges, a spokesperson for the Presidency Ministry which is responsible for Portuguese drug policy.
The Portuguese conservative party, the Social Democrats, called for a voter referendum on the new drug law, but the prime minister, Antonio Guterres, rejected the idea saying it did not merit a national vote.
Portugal now becomes the third member of the European Union, after Spain and Italy, to decriminalize possession of small quantities of marijuana.
"In the last few years, Italy, Switzerland, Scotland, Spain, the Netherlands and now Portugal, have proven to be enlightened and pragmatic countries in crafting workable marijuana policies," said Allen St. Pierre, NORML Foundation Executive Director. "In contrast, the United States continues to embrace the failed policy of prohibition."
For more information, please contact Allen St. Pierre, NORML Foundation Executive Director at (202) 483-8751.