President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa
Image: Lusa

Drugs law changes: Marcelo refers diploma to Constitutional Court

President sides with regional archipelagos who say they were not consulted

President Marcelo has referred the government’s proposed changes to Portugal’s drugs law to the Constitutional Court.

The reason is that the decree-law passed to him for approval (which decriminalises synthetic drugs and makes a new distinction between trafficking and consumption) did not once consult with the regional archipelagos – which is required under the terms of the Portuguese Constitution.

Given that passing the law would mean regional governments, which have their own specific issues with substance abuse, would be bound by it, Marcelo has done what was asked of him last month – referred the whole matter to judges at Palácio Ratton.

A note posted on the president’s official page says: “The President of the Republic today asked the Constitutional Court for a preventive review of the constitutionality, due to a lack of consultation with the governing bodies of (Azores and Madeira), of the Assembly of the Republic decree that clarifies the sanctioning regime for the possession of drugs for consumption regardless of quantity and establishes regular deadlines for updating the regulations, amending Decree-Law no. 15/93 of 22 January and Law no. 30/2000 of 29 November.” 

Marcelo has also expressed “reservations on a matter of content, and in line with the understanding that goes back to the time of President Jorge Sampaio, now considering, in particular, the special impact of the new types of drugs in the Autonomous Regions, the sanctioning regime adopted in them and the regionalisation of health services, which are fundamental for the application of the new law”.

Issues between the mainland government and its regional archipelagos are not helped by the fact that central power is Socialist, and regional power in both archipelagos is not.

Source material: LUSA