Decriminalization and Portugal Public Health Policy

Dr. Manuel Cardoso, Deputy General- Director of SICAD

September 13th 2018 8:45-10:30am Main Ballroom

Abstract: In 1999, the first Portuguese Strategy on Drugs was approved and among other measures, it proposed the decriminalization of all drugs.

The Law number 30/2000, 29th November, which defined the applicable legal regime to the use of narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances, as well the definition of health and social protection to people who consume such substances without prescription, entered into force in July 1st, 2001.
In order to apply this new Law, Commissions for Drug Addiction Dissuasion were created all over the country, what allowed the release of the criminal courts from situations of mere consumption of drugs.

Those Commissions seek to inform people and discourage them from using drugs. They apply administrative sanctions, but mostly look forward to assess user’s needs (treatment or others) and refer consumers to the most suitable responses.

However, the approach to these problems in Portugal was not only by the decriminalization of drug use. If today we can assume that we assist to a general positive trend, it is due to the set of integrated responses that acquired a bigger coherence and consistency on the decriminalization framework.

Learning Objectives: understand the integrated approach of Portuguese drugs policy;
– understand decriminalization legal Framework and;
– main results of Portuguese drug policy.


Manuel Ribeiro Cardoso, Deputy General-Director of the Intervention on Addictive Behaviours and Dependencies General Directorate since February 2012 and member of the Executive Board of the Institute on Drugs and Drug Addiction from 2005 to 2012.

Medical doctor and public health consultant, with a post-graduation in Occupational Medicine and Health Management, Dr. Cardoso has 20 years’ experience on public health, drugs and alcohol issues and holds management positions in public administration since 1998.

From 1991 to 1998 he worked at the Directorate-General of Health in the areas of School, Occupational and Environmental Health and represented Portugal in several international fora, namely within the European Union.

He was also member of the Management Board of Drug Addiction Prevention and Treatment Service (1998-2002).

At the international level, he has represented Portugal at the “Committee on National Alcohol Policy and Action”, which plays a major role in implementing “The EU strategy to support Member States in reducing alcohol related harm”.  He also represented Portugal in the development of the Global Strategy to reduce the harmful use of alcohol and of the WHO Action Plan for Europe, as well as in the WHO national counterparts for alcohol. Since 2005 is the substitute member in the EMCDDA Management Board.

He was the Executive Coordinator of the European Joint Action RARHA (Reducing Alcohol Related Harm), a project created in the framework of the EU Second Programme of Community Action in the Field of Health 2008-2013, which counted with the participation of Member States and International Organizations in a total of 61 entities.

He is co-Chair of the Programme Committee of the Lisbon Addiction Conference, a European Conference on Addictive Behaviors and Dependencies, organized each two-years since 2015, which showcases the latest scientific knowledge in this field and explores challenges relating to illicit drugs, alcohol, tobacco, gambling, the internet and other addictive behaviors.

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