Carlyn Zwarenstein in Reasons to be Cheerful:
Those in the harm reduction world know Portugal as a harm reduction Mecca: renowned for its 2001 legislation that decriminalized possession of small amounts of substances—including “hard” drugs like heroin and cocaine—and prioritized the health and human rights of people who use drugs over punishing them for it.
I have traveled here from Canada, where one person is dying roughly every two hours from an opioid-involved overdose, to attend Harm Reduction International’s 26th global conference, and to learn about Portugal’s own radical experiment.
Back in the city, I find myself in an enormous conference room, surrounded by policy makers, doctors and researchers from some 90 countries around the world. They see harm reduction measures as fundamental to achieving the UN’s goal of eliminating AIDS by 2030 (Portugal is one of the few nations on track to meet its goal) as well as dramatically reducing rates of viral hepatitis and tuberculosis.