Decrease in Drug-Related Deaths in Portugal Post-Decriminalization
"In absolute numbers, drug-related deaths from 2002 to 2006 for every prohibited substance have either declined significantly or remained constant compared with 2001. In 2000, for instance, the number of deaths from opiates (including heroin) was 281. That number has decreased steadily since decriminalization, to 133 in 2006 (see Figure 11).56
"As is true for drug usage rates, these postdecriminalization decreases were preceded by significant increases in drug-related problems in Portugal throughout the 1990s. Throughout the predecriminalization 1990s, the number of acute drug-related deaths increased every year, increasing more than tenfold from 1989 to 1999, reaching a total of almost 400 by 1999 (see Figures 12 and 13).57
"The total number of drug-related deaths has actually decreased from the predecriminalization year of 1999 (when it totaled close to 400) to 2006 (when the total was 290)."
Greenwald, Glenn, "Drug Decriminalization in Portugal: Lessons for Creating Fair and Successful Drug Policies, Cato White Paper," CATO Institute (Washington, DC: 2009), p. 17.