Portugal’s Largest Political Party Endorses Cannabis Legalization

The Social Democratic Party (PSD), the largest party in the Portuguese Parliament, has endorsed the legal regulation of cannabis. At the PSD’s national conference on February 17, a majority of party members voted in favor of a motion for legally regulating the drug “from production to distribution to sale.”

The motion was put forward by a former legislator, Dr. André Almeida, and Dr. Ricardo Baptista Leite, a current MP (Minister of Parliament) and member of the parliamentary Health Committee. Supporting the legal regulation of cannabis for non-medical purposes is a relatively fringe stance in European politics. There are currently no countries on the continent which have legalized the commercial production and sale of the drug. Baptista Leite said that he was initially uncertain about supporting legalization due to the drug’s potential risks, but then came to believe that legal regulation was necessary because of these potential risks.

Although Portugal decriminalized the use and personal possession of all drugs in 2001, the state did not legalize any illicit drugs. The existence of state sponsored dissuasion committees, which are health-centered and replace criminalization efforts, help authorities gain insight into drug use trends through open discussion with people who use drugs. Baptista Leite said that insight acquired through these interactions helped motivate him to endorse cannabis legalization. By securing an endorsement from the largest party in Portuguese politics, Baptista Leite hopes he will now be able to encourage society and the current government to understand the need for the “regulated, safe, and responsible legalization of cannabis.”

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