Cato Institute’s Report on Portuguese Drug Policy: Reasons for Skepticism

Mark informs me that this Thursday he will be “with Glenn Greenwald on bloggingheads tv on drugs”. I have told him this is a bad idea and it would make more sense to take the drugs afterwards, but still, he’s his own man so there it is. Let me contribute something in advance nonetheless. Many policy people have asked me what I think of the Cato Institute’s report on Portugal “proving that drug legalization works”, which Greenwald authored. Below is the guts of the memo I have written for such decision makers, which expresses my doubts about the report’s standing as a serious piece of drug policy analysis. If you like your drug policy simple and ideological, save yourself some time and skip straight to the comments section to denounce me. But if you want to know how analysts and decision makers try to sort through drug policy in all its complexity, you may find the following of interest. Extra credit reading is this concrete example for how you can torture the statistics of Portuguese drug policy until they give you the answer you want.

This memo is to follow up on your request for some analysis of the Cato Institute’s report on Portuguese drug policy. To summarize my view briefly, I think some aspects of current Portuguese drug policy are useful, that all of it warrants even-handed evaluation and that the Cato Report does summarize a selection of the important facts about the policy’s impact. I do however have some reservations about how the report has been interpreted as well as how it was written. Continue reading “Cato Institute’s Report on Portuguese Drug Policy: Reasons for Skepticism”

Scientific Proof that Drug Decriminalization in Portugal Saved Lives and Killed People

Here are the most recent data available from the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction, which address drug-related deaths in Portugal. Portugal decriminalized all drugs in 2001, and these factually accurate data can be used to prove that Portugal’s policy has been a complete success or a complete failure, assuming the analyst has no intellectual integrity. EMCDDA is one of those annoying organizations that provides full information without political spin, so clearly you can’t rely on the chart the way they print it up


If you have been commissioned to do a study for the Glibertarian Institute, then the chart below this paragraph is for you. Continue reading “Scientific Proof that Drug Decriminalization in Portugal Saved Lives and Killed People”