Portugal decriminalised all drug use, including cannabis, in 2001.[1] At the same time, the country greatly increased funding for drug treatment and outreach services. The consumption, acquisition and possession for personal use of narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances is decriminalised and punished with administrative infringements e.g. fines. Cannabis policy is the same as other drugs and the law aims for health and social protection of people who use cannabis.

In the time since 2001, rates of drug use have not changed significantly but the health and social outcomes for people who use drugs have improved – mostly due to changes in injecting drug use.[2] For the period 2001–2005, Portugal had the absolute lowest lifetime prevalence rate for cannabis for the 15-64 age group, the most used drug in the EU.[3]

It is still illegal to supply or sell cannabis. Cannabis social clubs exist though these are technically illegal. In 2019, the Portuguese parliament rejected two proposals to legalise the cultivation and sale of cannabis for recreational purposes.


[1] Hughes et al., “What Can We Learn from the Portuguese Decriminalization of Illicit Drugs?,” The British Journal of Criminology 50, no. 6 (2010)

[2] Quintas et al., Decriminalization: Different Models in Portugal and Spain. Dual Markets: Comparative Approaches to Regulation. Edited by Ernesto U. Savona, Mark A. R. Kleiman and Francesco Calderoni. Cham: Springer International Publishing, 2017. 

[3] Greenwald, “Drug Decriminalization in Portugal: Lessons for Creating Fair and Successful Drug Policies,” Cato Institute Whitepaper Series (2009)