Portugal Country Drug Report 2018

Drug laws and drug law offences

National drug laws

The main drug law in Portugal is Decree Law 15/93 of 22 January 1993, which defines the legal regime applicable to the trafficking and consumption of narcotic drugs and psychoactive substances.

Law 30/2000 adopted in November 2000, but in place since July 2001, decriminalised consumption, acquisition and possession for personal consumption of drugs. However, a person caught using or possessing a small quantity of drugs for personal use (established by law; should not exceed the quantity required for average individual consumption over a period of 10 days), where there is no suspicion of involvement in drug trafficking, will be evaluated by the local Commission for Dissuasion of Drug Addiction, composed by three members: one of them a legal expert, while the other two shall be selected among medical doctors, psychologists, sociologists or social workers. Punitive sanctions can be applied, but the main objective is to explore the need for treatment and to promote healthy recovery.

Drug trafficking may incur a sentence of 1-5 or 4-12 years’ imprisonment, depending on specific criteria, one of these being the nature of the substance supplied. The penalty is reduced for users who sell drugs to finance their own consumption.

Decree Law 54/2013 was adopted in April 2013. It prohibits the production, export, advertisement, distribution, sale or simple dispensing of new psychoactive substances (NPS), named in the list accompanying Decree Law 54/2013, and sets up a control mechanism for NPS. Administrative sanctions including fines of up to EUR 45 000 can be imposed for offences under this law, while a person caught using NPS, but who is not suspected of having committed another offence, is referred to the local Commission for Dissuasion of Drug Addiction.

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Drug law offences

Drug law offences (DLO) data are the foundation for monitoring drug-related crime and are also a measure of law enforcement activity and drug market dynamics; they may be used to inform policies on the implementation of drug laws and to improve strategies.

In 2016, around two thirds of DLOs in Portugal were related to possession. The majority of DLOs were linked to cannabis, followed by cocaine- and heroin-related offences.

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Methodological note: Analysis of trends is based only on those countries providing sufficient data to describe changes over the period specified. The reader should also be aware that monitoring patterns and trends in a hidden and stigmatised behaviour like drug use is both practically and methodologically challenging. For this reason, multiple sources of data are used for the purposes of analysis in this report. Caution is therefore required in interpretation, in particular when countries are compared on any single measure. Detailed information on methodology and caveats and comments on the limitations in the information set available can be found in the EMCDDA Statistical Bulletin.