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Marihuana PortugalAbout fourteen years ago Portuguese people embarked on a grand experiment. Faced with a drug-related human catastrophe of immense proportions, they decided to “grow a pair” and de-criminalize everything. At the time this was a bold move, not only because of all the people with “vested interests” against such a law, but because it irked the USA with its all-out anti-drug policy. Portugal was an example to squash and not to follow. Yet, strangely enough, Portugal stayed the course. Well… it’s been fourteen years now and the results are in: we don’t care!

Yes, there have been significant improvements on rates of drug-related deaths. Yes, there have been significant decreases on new HIV/AIDS cases. Yes, drug use continues to increase, albeit at a slow rate. Yes, “synthetics” have not made any significant inroads as it was feared. Yes, Portugal has a drug problem. Yes, police was freed to persecute actual crimes. And yes, Portuguese people are much, much happier now.

Of all those statements, the most important one is the last one. Typical discussions about the grand Portuguese experiment oscillate between two extremes: it is a failure and it is a success. Alas, this point of view is an incorrect one. This point of view is still the socialist / statist one where “society” must be protected and cared “for the greater good”, regardless of the individual. It really does not matter if Portuguese people are immersed in a drug-related orgy of unheard proportions or if they have transformed themselves into the most extreme health-aware and health-seeking people in the world. Yes. That’s right. It does not matter. The only question that matters is:

Are they happier?

Simple, right? If they are happier then drug de-criminalization across the board worked. If they are unhappier, then it did not work. Most debates “out there” hinge around the incorrect measuring stick; this is, whether or not Portuguese “society” is healthier. What a pile of dung!

The concept of “society” is something that has been taken over by politicians (particularly of the left persuasion) in order to justify “taking action” to introduce “measures” for “the good of society”. The original concept of society is simply that of a bunch of people living together in a more-or-less ordered community. Nowhere in this definition we find the concept of “law and order” as currently understood. A “more-or-less” ordered society evolves naturally through the basic biologic imperative of self-preservation in order to spread our genes to a maximum number of humans. We have explained this in the article Contracts Are The Key To Coexistence.

And so we go back to Portugal and ask again:

Are Portuguese people happier?

For the looks of it, the answer is a resounding YES! Therefore we must conclude that the great Portuguese experiment has been successful.

We have previously explained that as Libertarians it is our right to do exactly as we please with our properties, which include our bodies. As such we are free to take any drug in any shape or form we so desire (see Drugs For Everybody). This principle is well… a Libertarian principle. However, what we have not discussed is the result; or, more precisely, what we were hoping to achieve with such principle.

The answer may surprise you: nothing!

That’s right. We are not expecting to achieve anything by freeing people. It is not our place to “expect” something. This is old and deprecated socialist and “democratic” thinking. We do not own the lives of other people and therefore we are not in a position to dictate what they want and how do they want to achieve it.

However, in general terms, there is a tendency to seek happiness. Why is this so? because as Austrian Economics teaches, we are constantly trying to decrease “uneasiness”. Why are we so doing? Because “uneasiness” is… well… uncomfortable at many levels. It is uncomfortable at a personal, physical and biological/genetic levels. Thus, any indication of increased happiness can be correlated to a decrease of “uneasiness”, which is our primary goal. Thus, we can gauge the success or failure of an initiative by the degree of happiness it produces or reduces.

The great Portuguese drug debate must be viewed in this light. Are Portuguese people happier, one Portuguese at the time? Or are they more miserable? We must never forget that the primary purpose of a political system is to deliver satisfaction. This satisfaction could be as basic as mutual protection against aggression forces or as advanced as good health care. If a system cannot deliver even this, is this system worth keeping? And what if the only way such a system has to improve our lives in a sustainable manner without going into debt is through non-intervention? Then the logical conclusion is that we don’t actually need such a system if its success depends of… doing nothing!

This is the most basic conundrum that communists, socialists and democrats never want to answer. But that’s OK. Sooner or later reality will set them straight. Sooner of later political evolution will make them obsolete. The only question is, will this be soon enough?

What do you think?

Why? You don’t?

We rest our case.

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