Belgium Considers Following Portugal's Lead in Decriminalize All Drugs
Belgium is currently considering the possibility of decriminalizing drug use and possession, inspired by Portugal’s example.
Belgian national drug commissioner Ine Van Wymersch is in favor of the proposal. If implemented, the new policy would view drug use as a public health issue instead of a criminal offense.
Portugal’s model focuses on the prevention, treatment, and social reintegration of drug users rather than criminalization and serves as a guide for Belgium’s new approach.
Portugal’s decision to decriminalize drugs in 2001 led to a significant decrease in the number of heroin users, as well as a decline in overdose deaths and crime rates. This information highlights a radical shift in the approach to drug use, with a focus on health and social reintegration.
In summary, various UN agencies have recommended for some time to stop using the “war on drugs” approach. This approach involves significant public spending, often leading to the incarceration of users, and rarely targets major drug dealers.
Most importantly, it did not affect reducing drug use. Therefore, it is essential to study alternative approaches.
Legalization of Cannabis in Belgium
There has been a recent discussion in Belgium regarding the legalization of cannabis, with prominent political figures supporting the idea. The Mayor of Brussels, Philippe Close, has been advocating for the decriminalization of cannabis and its removal from the Belgian penal code.
Close believes that this measure would allow authorities to focus on combating the trafficking of harder drugs, which is currently a growing issue in Brussels.
Close argues that solely relying on police repression to stem drug-related violence is not a viable solution, especially considering the upcoming 2024 elections. He maintains that a national debate on the topic is crucial.
The federal Minister of Economy and Employment, Pierre-Yves Dermagne, also supports the legalization of cannabis. According to Dermagne, criminalizing cannabis has proven to be ineffective, and legalization would allow for the organized cultivation and sales of cannabis while generating state revenue.