Press Release: LSPC Joins DPA Delegation to Study Portugal’s Humane Drug Policy


LSPC Joins Drug Policy Alliance Partners in Portugal to Study Effective, Humane Drug Decriminalization and Treatment Policy

Mark Fujiwara 415-625-7056
Dorsey Nunn 415-625-7052

San Francisco, CA – Legal Services for Prisoners with Children (LSPC) Executive Director and All of Us or None co-founder Dorsey Nunn will join Drug Policy Alliance members and partners in Lisbon, Portugal on March 19-22, 2018, to observe first-hand the European country’s successful drug harm-reduction and decriminalization programs.

In response to a heroin epidemic in the 1990’s, Portugal decriminalized personal possession of all drugs and began treating drug possession and use as a health issue—employing counseling and methadone instead of judge, courtroom, and jail. As a result, drug cases have dropped 75%, HIV transmission via intravenous drug use is the lowest in Europe, overdoses are the second lowest in Europe, and the drug-induced death rate is 5 times lower than the European Union average.

During the same time period, the U.S. has doubled down on criminalization and incarceration, spending billions of dollars on a failed “War on Drugs” that has put hundreds of thousands of people—mainly of color—behind bars. In addition to incarceration, they are also shackled with a conviction history that triggers collateral consequences for the rest of their lives. There is also a real casualty cost—2016 saw more Americans dying of overdoses than were killed in the Vietnam, Afghanistan, and Iraq Wars combined.

As a Drug Policy Alliance partner, LPSC works to end the criminalization of drug possession and use, and to restore the civil and human rights of people with conviction histories. Most recently, in 2017, LSPC co-sponsored and helped pass SB 180 (The RISE Act), which eliminated mandatory 3-year enhancement sentences for certain prior drug convictions. In addition to his legislative work and grassroots advocacy, Dorsey Nunn is also the co-founder of Free At Last, an organization in Palo Alto, CA that offers community recovery and rehabilitation services.

Meeting with the top Portuguese national health officials who crafted their innovative and human policy, as well as with the social and health workers who implement it, LSPC and other Drug Alliance Policy partners will gain greater understanding about how to more effectively shift U.S. policy and practice from carceral to caring for our communities. As a legal services and legislative policy non-profit led and staffed by formerly-incarcerated people and family members, LSPC is in a unique position to advocate for best drug policy practices at the local, state, and national levels.

Find more info on the DPA delegation and Portugal’s decriminalization policy here.