“I really don’t care if people use drugs. I don’t want them to suffer from it.” - João Goulão, president of the Institute on Drugs and Drug Addiction
Helen Redmond, ZSpace
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Portugal is a rogue state. The small country of ten million people on the Mediterranean decriminalized all drug use in 2001. Even the scary hard drugs like heroin and crack cocaine. It was a seminal moment in the international war on drugs that went largely unnoticed in the media but not among the world’s drug warriors. Members of the International Narcotics Control Board (INCB), the organization that enforces drug prohibition via the UN Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, flew to Lisbon. The Vienna-based group has a long track record of bullying and threatening countries that attempt nonpunitive approaches to drug policy. But the Portuguese wouldn’t back down and set into motion the Carnation Revolution Part 2. The first revolution in 1972 opened the country up to democracy and drug experimentation in a way that wasn’t possible until the forty year fascist dictatorship of António de Oliveira Salazar had been overthrown and the borders flung open. The Portuguese had missed “Reefer Madness,” “chasing the dragon,” and the psychedelic sixties. There was a lot of catching up to do.