Tone: self-aware, empirical, freakanomics
Languages: Portuguese and English
2001: After legalizing hard drugs within it’s borders, Portugal has progressed into what may look like a potential model for all countries embroiled in the drug epidemic. CLEAN explores the next steps in transferring this relatively unknown state-wide experiment into a pilot program for others.
In 2001, the Portuguese government did something that the United States would find entirely alien. After many years of waging a fierce war on drugs, it decided to flip its strategy entirely: It decriminalized them all.
If someone is found in the possession of less than a 10-day supply of anything from marijuana to heroin, he or she is sent to a three-person Commission for the Dissuasion of Drug Addiction, typically made up of a lawyer, a doctor and a social worker. The commission recommends treatment or a minor fine; otherwise, the person is sent off without any penalty. A vast majority of the time, there is no penalty.
Fourteen years after decriminalization, Portugal has not been run into the ground by a nation of drug addicts. In fact, by many measures, it's doing far better than it was before.
This film explores first hand the dramatic effects of this policy, with Earth Angels front and center in the investigation. We will look for answers to the difficult questions surrounding the taboo of drug use, the effects it has on families and cultures, and the individuals who have been saved first hand by the government’s otherwise risky policies.