Portugal is the latest European country to pick up on a growing trend of favoring therapy over jail for possession and use of small amounts of illegal drugs. Critics of the new law worry that Portugal will become a hot spot for foreign drug users, but supporters believe the law will shift the focus of the government’s anti-drug efforts from users to traffickers and will give addicts a better chance to get clean.

The New York Times:

Jail sentences have been replaced with mandatory counseling or treatment and possibly community service or a fine of up to 30,000 escudos, about $130. The panels consist of a psychologist, a social worker and a legal adviser, who decide what action to take.

The new approach is drawing fierce criticism, especially from conservative politicians who argue that a wave of foreign ”drug tourists” will head for Portugal. ”We are offering sun, beaches and any drug you like,” said Paulo Portas, leader of the conservative Popular Party.

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