Policy Paper 20 | Understanding Successful Policy innovation: The case of Portuguese Drug Policy

In 2000, Portugal decriminalised the consumption and possession of drugs. This law makes Portugal unique in the sense that the individual is looked after by the Ministry of Health instead of the justice system. Aditionally,  contiguous measures related to treatment and prevention of drug use were crucial in making it possible for the new policy to go beyond decriminalisation and become a new successful and resilient policy model. Thus, drug decriminalisation in Portugal is a successful case of original innovation.

In this policy paper, we argue that although original innovation is rare, it occurs when a certain set of variables are present. Exploring the Portuguese case of drug decriminalisation, this research offers lessons to policy-makers and policy activists about the whole life-cycle of a policy, especially an innovative policy.