Portugal has seen one of the biggest and more successful experiments in drug legislation in the world. In 2001 it became the first European country to remove criminal penalties for people in possession of drugs. Since then anyone can carry up to 10 doses of any drug, from hashish to MDMA, cocaine or heroin.
That means that one can calmly carry through Lisbon two grams of cocaine, 25 grams of marijuana or 5 grams of hashish. Nevertheless, if a person is caught with a quantity exceeding those limits it will be considered drug trafficking. The substances are still illegal but the consumption is not prosecuted.
The law was the country’s response to a series of deaths caused by overdoses of different drugs during the 80s and 90s. During that period cheap heroin arrived in Europe from Afghanistan and Pakistan. When the issue was at its worse up to 100,000 people were “very problematic drug addicts”, according to data from the Health Ministry in Portugal - almost 1 per cent of the population.