DPA Partner Susan Burton, founder and executive director of A New Way of Life Reentry Project, recently shared her personal perspective on the urgent need for drug decriminalization in an op-ed for the L.A. Sentinel. In her piece she cites lessons learned from her experience visiting Portugal to better understand that country's model and the benefits it has had.
Last year I visited Portugal as part of a delegation of advocates led by the Drug Policy Alliance. In 2001, that country introduced a comprehensive program in response to its own overdose crisis that decriminalized small amounts of drugs for personal use...As I met with public health officials, visited treatment facilities, and heard from law enforcement agents, as well as current and former drug users, what struck me most was the humanity of this approach. The focus is on supporting people and their health instead of demonizing the illness and punishing the related behavior.