National drug policies are the result of the interaction of multiple factors, such as political and administrative structures, the role and influence of stakeholders, financial resources, the drug situation, other public policies (e.g. health, security) and international agreements.

There is no model for how to combine these factors and assess their respective weight and interrelations. However, this should not prevent analysts from exploring the significant changes in these factors that may have shaped drug policy in the short and long term.

This series uses a historical perspective to identify such drug policy changes. While some of these changes may have occurred in parallel in many countries because they were facing the same issues (e.g. the adoption of new UN conventions, HIV/AIDS epidemics, diffusion of new drugs), this series of policy profiles will also show that each country has its specific drug policy timeline.

This first profile describes the national drug policy of Portugal, a policy that has attracted significant attention recently in the media and in policy debates. It considers national strategies and action plans, the legal context within which they operate and the public funds spent, or committed, to resource them. It also describes the political bodies and mechanisms set up to coordinate the response to the multi-faceted problem and the systems of evaluation that may help to improve future policy.

The profile puts this information in context by outlining the size, wealth and economic situation of the country as a whole, as well as the historical development of the current policy. One note of caution for the reader is that the availability of information and analysis in the area of demand reduction is, as with most national and international drug policy studies, much greater than in the area of supply reduction.