#17: What If We Legalized It ALL?


In the second part of our look at what things might look at after the War on Drugs, we turn to Portugal. This country, a member of the European Union, decriminalized the possession of all drugs in amounts sufficient for personal use. You read that right: Portugal decriminalized all drugs – heroin, cocaine, you name it – and turned completely toward a public health outlook, and away from a law enforcement model.

“It’s unfortunate that it [had to] get to this point for our opinions to start changing. But at the same time, if this is the moment to change, we need to seize the oportunity.”


How does the system work? Has it reduced the toll of drug use and the criminal justice costs associated with it? We talk with Kellen Russoniello, Staff Attorney for Health and Drug Policy at the ACLU of San Diego and Imperial Counties. Russoniello is the author of “The Devil (and Drugs) in the Details: Portugal's Focus on Public Health as a Model for Decriminalization of Drugs in Mexico,” published in the Yale Journal of Health Policy, Law and Ethics.