Portugal Country Drug Report 2019

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 of drugs for personal consumption.

A regulation sets out maximum amounts of drugs in grams, these amounts being estimates of the average required for 10 days’ consumption. A person caught using or possessing less than the maximum amount of a drug for personal use, where there is no suspicion of involvement in drug trafficking, will be evaluated by the local Commission for Dissuasion of Drug Addiction, composed of three members, two being medical doctors, psychologists, sociologists or social workers and the third being a legal expert. Punitive sanctions can be applied, but the main objectives are 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 which is the nature of the substance supplied. The penalty is reduced for users who sell drugs to finance their own consumption.

Decree Law 54/2013 prohibits the production, export, advertisement, distribution, sale or simple dispensing of new psychoactive substances (NPS) named in the list accompanying the Decree Law 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 offence (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 2017, around two thirds of DLOs in Portugal were related to possession (72 %). 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.