By Sally Rawsthorne

A global expert has urged a radical rethink of Australia's approach to drug regulation. Manuel Cardoso, who is credited for his role in reforming the Portuguese system in 2001, told Fairfax Media that Australia should decriminalise all drugs and treat drug use and abuse as a public health issue rather than one of criminal justice. "Decriminalising is considered by the United Nations as a good practice, the International Narcotic Control Board consider that the Portuguese experience is a good practice, it's something to try to implement [here]," he said.  In 2001, the European nation decriminalised personal possession and consumption of all drugs. Before the reform, 1 per cent of the population had a heroin problem and the country was battling the EU's highest HIV infection rate.