My Perfect Country is a BBC radio program that looks at how you would build a perfect country by looking at policies that work from countries around the world. So far, they have explored teaching mathematics in Shanghai, Japanese gun control, Costa Rica’s progressive energy policy, and drug decriminalization in Portugal.
In 2001 the use of all drugs was decriminalised meaning possession of drugs was now identified as a public health issue rather than a criminal offence. Today, whilst drugs remain illegal, users do not receive a criminal record and are instead referred to rehabilitation and treatment programmes. Drug related deaths, HIV infection rates and use of legal highs are at an all-time low.
I hope they take a look at Iceland’s teen substance abuse policies in a future program:
Young people aren’t hanging out in the park right now, Gudberg explains, because they’re in after-school classes in these facilities, or in clubs for music, dance or art. Or they might be on outings with their parents.
Today, Iceland tops the European table for the cleanest-living teens. The percentage of 15- and 16-year-olds who had been drunk in the previous month plummeted from 42 per cent in 1998 to 5 per cent in 2016. The percentage who have ever used cannabis is down from 17 per cent to 7 per cent. Those smoking cigarettes every day fell from 23 per cent to just 3 per cent.
The way the country has achieved this turnaround has been both radical and evidence-based, but it has relied a lot on what might be termed enforced common sense. “This is the most remarkably intense and profound study of stress in the lives of teenagers that I have ever seen,” says Milkman. “I’m just so impressed by how well it is working.”
Update: This is similar to Michael Moore’s recent film, Where to Invade Next:
The film, in the style of a travelogue, has Moore spending time in countries such as Italy, France, Finland, Tunisia, Slovenia, and Portugal where he experiences those countries’ alternative methods of dealing with social and economic ills experienced in the United States.