Portugal’s 2001 Drugs Liberalisation Policy: a UK service provider’s perspective on the Psychoactive Substances Act (2016)

Samantha Banbury, Francisco Guedelha, Joanne Lusher

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The Misuse of Drugs Act (1971) and the Psychoactive Substances Act (2016) both reinforce the criminalisation of drugs use in the UK. The Psychoactive Substances Act (2016) has been developed to control and monitor the use of legal highs, particularly in institutions. This study aimed to establish drug service providers’ viewpoints on how effective UK drug policies have been at curtailing criminal behaviours and whether existing policies should be aligned with the Portuguese drug liberalisation policy. A thematic analysis was conducted following semi-structured interviews with four UK based substance use service providers. Two superordinate themes emerged and included a need for change in UK drug policy including a clearer definition of the Psychoactive Substance Act (2016) and an integrated systems approach to drug policy in line with the Portuguese liberalisation policy. This would curtail the criminalization of drug users, target those with substance misuse problems in the community and in prison, and support an attuned systems approach to treatment.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Alcohol and Drug Education
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 30 Apr 2018


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