As part of a significant shift in Portuguese political discourse, there is a growing consensus in favor of legalizing cannabis for adult use in Portugal.
During a debate in the Assembly of the Republic (AR), representatives of various political parties and organizations expressed their support for the regulation of cannabis rather than maintaining prohibitionist policies.
This development follows the recent announcement by the Socialist Party (PS), which currently holds a majority in the Portuguese government, regarding the formation of a new working group to discuss the legalization of personal use of cannabis .
The conference, titled “Adolescent Cannabis Exposure and Health” and organized by the Treatment Activist Group (TAG), appears to indicate that a consensus is emerging in different quarters to move forward. forward towards the regulation of personal use of cannabis.
Placed under the scientific coordination of Professor Teresa Summavielle, it brought together national and international experts who, for example, intervened on the understanding and consideration of the risks associated with cannabis consumption, particularly among adolescents.
Policy Perspectives on Cannabis Regulation
António Maló de Abreu, president of the health committee and member of the Social Democratic Party, recognized the complexity of the cannabis issue. He highlighted the importance of protecting young people from the potential harm of cannabis use while recognizing evolving international trends towards regulation. However, he also expressed concerns that legalization could unintentionally increase cannabis use among minors, something that does not appear to be seen overseas.
Carlos Alves, vice-president of Infarmed, the Portuguese authority for medicines and health products, highlighted the need for Portugal to engage in discussions on the non-medical consumption of cannabis, as it is of a global subject. He stressed the importance of addressing the risks associated with cannabis use, particularly psychological illnesses, while recognizing the diversity of approaches taken by different countries.
João Goulão, from SICAD (Intervention Service for Addictive Behaviors and Dependence), adopted a more flexible position on the regulation of cannabis consumption among adults. He emphasized the need to minimize the harmful effects of cannabis, particularly among adolescents, and suggested considering a broader regulatory paradigm for various substances. Mr. Goulão insisted that while economic interests may play a role, the focus must be primarily on health and evidence-based decision-making.
Towards responsible cannabis regulation
Luís Mendão, director of the GAT Citizens’ Initiative, moderated the discussions and highlighted the organization’s commitment to responsible regulation based on knowledge and health protection. He recalled the support of three university rectors for the regulation of cannabis in a letter addressed to Parliament.
Maria de Lurdes Rodrigues, rector of ISCTE and former education minister, expressed support for cannabis regulation, emphasizing the importance of basing policies on empirical facts rather than personal opinions. She also drew parallels with alcohol, highlighting the negative effects of alcohol consumption on health and behavior.
Portugal is witnessing a significant shift in its approach to cannabis regulation, with growing support for legalizing adult use. Discussions within the Assembly of the Republic indicate a desire to explore evidence-based approaches to cannabis policy that prioritize health and safety, particularly among young people.
Although economic considerations are on the agenda, the primary objective remains reducing the potential risks associated with cannabis use, reflecting evolving international trends towards regulation rather than prohibitionism.