Controlled substances

Controlled substances are divided into 6 lists:

List 1: opiates; coca derivatives; cannabis and derivatives
List 2: hallucinogens; amphetamines; barbiturates
List 3: preparations with controlled substances
List 4: tranquillisers and analgesics
Lists 5 and 6 contain precursors.

Drug use and possession

Since 2001, although all drugs are still considered illegal in Portugal, anyone caught in possession of a modest quantity of drugs for personal use (quantity which does not exceed the one required for an average individual consumption during a period of 10 days) by the police, will be send to a local commission composed of a lawyer, a doctor and a social assistant, unless the police have suspicions or evidence that more serious offences are involved (sale, traffic). The drug in any case will be seized. Such Commission meets the person charged with illegal drug use/possession, in order to evaluate his/her situation with the aim of treating eventual addictions and rehabilitating the person; sanctioning, even if possible, is not the main objective in this phase.

Trafficking and drug related crime

Producing, offering, selling, preparing or cultivating illicit drugs are, among others, offences constituting drug traffic. Trafficking in substances included in the lists 1 to 3 attract a sentence of between 4 and 12 years of imprisonment, while substances in list 4 (tranquilliser and analgesic) may be punished by between 1 and 5 years in prison.

If the user sells drugs to finance his own consumption, the penalty is reduced: Lists 1 to 3 up to 3 years. List 4 up to 1 year.

When the traffic can be defined as minor, according to the circumstances, modalities of the crime, quantity and nature of the substances, the penalties will be substantially reduced; between 1 and 5 years' imprisonment (lists 1 to 3) and up to 2 years or fine (list 4).

There are also aggravating circumstances by which the minimun and maximun penalties for traffic can be increased by ¼ in all cases. Criminal association foresees 10-25 years. Traffic of precursors attract penalties up to 12 years of imprisonment and the abandonment of syringes is fined or punished by up to 1 year of imprisonment.

Substitution of sentences

The legislation prefers treatment instead of punishment and foresees various therapeutic alternatives to prison. In that sense, there is a Commision, which substituted the public prosecutor, composed of three civil servants whose objetive is to deal with non-violent drug use offenders in order to provide treatment and full rehabilitation.

Harm reduction programs

Needle and Syringe Programmes (NSP): 1620 operational NSP sites are clearly regulated. This includes provisions on management, access rights, working hours and procedures, premises and location (including the possibility of dispensing machines), coordination with other bodies and assessment. Injecting drug users are also allowed to carry sterile injecting material. Needles and syringes reported to be available for purchase from pharmacies or other outlets.

Opium Substitution Treatment (OST) based on methadone and buprenorphine.

Drug consumption room: 0

In general, various mechanisms have been established in order to support the harm reduction policy in the country such as drop-in centres for drug users without social or family support; refuges; shelters; contact and information units; mobile centres for the prevention of infectious diseases; low threshold substitution programmes; syringe exchange schemes; street teams; and programmes for supervised drug use.


The legal smoking age is 18 and minors are banned from using cigarette vending machines. Smoking is banned in indoor public places, public transport, schools and sports facilities, hospitals, museums, food and beverage establishments, theatres, libraries, and bars and restaurants where smoking is only allowed in designated smoking areas or venues.


Under 18 are allow to buy and consume beer and wine but not to buy spirits. 16 year limit for the purchase of wine and beer. Over 0.05% Blood Alcohol Content could mean a severe fine, withdrawal of driving licence or even imprisonment.