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Does the PIIGS Crisis Mean More Portuguese are Experimenting with Drugs?

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There was finally some better news out of debt-stressed Portugal this week.

The country raised $1 billion in a Treasury bill sale, with a lower interest rate and high demand easing the tension surround the nation’s fiscal troubles.

Still, as the AP reports, the outcome of the recent bill sale underscored how Portugal’s financial plight has deepened over the past year – 12 months ago, the interest rate on its 12-month bills was 0.93%.

Moody’s has warned it might slash its A1 rating on Portugal while S&P is also thinking a downgrade could be warranted. A lot of forecasters continue to expect the country to relapse into recession in 2011.

However, these analysts fail to take into account one serious question: are the Portuguese sober enough to even notice another downturn in their economy?

Nine years ago, Portuguese elected officials decided to decriminalize the possession of all illicit drugs -- from marijuana to heroin -- but to continue imposing criminal sanctions on distribution and trafficking.

New reports on the impact of this change in the law, as Mother Jones details, suggest that the decriminalization has produced more experimentation among the Portuguese.

The data indicates that the number of men and women who have dabbled in a smoke of this or snort of that has jumped. However, there are reasons to believe that the experimentation hasn’t resulted in a lot more long-term drug use.

Specifically, the number of Portuguese aged 15 to 64 who have ever tried illegal drugs climbed from 7.8% in 2001 to 12% in 2007. But the increase of Portuguese reporting illicit drug use over the past year is much smaller: up from 3.4% in 2001 to 3.7% in 2007.

Read the whole post here. For the tip, we thank Marginal Revolution.
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