SNP backs decriminalisation of drugs

Scotland had highest number of drug-related deaths in European Union last year

Chiara Giordano
Monday 14 October 2019 00:01 BST
Stock image.
Stock image.

The SNP has unanimously backed decriminalising the possession and consumption of controlled drugs.

Activists at the party’s annual conference in Aberdeen supported the move, branding the current Misuse of Drugs Act, which dates back to 1971, as “not fit for purpose”.

Anne McLaughlin, the SNP’s Westminster candidate for Glasgow North East, spoke out about the need to decriminalise the possession of drugs.

She said: “Until we are independent, let’s call for the powers to be devolved so we can fully debate how best to tackle our drugs problems in our country.”

There were a total of 1,187 drugs-related deaths in Scotland in 2018 – the highest number on record.

This is the highest total in the European Union, and triple that of England and Wales.

But attempts to set up a safe drugs consumption room, where users could take drugs in a supervised environment, in Glasgow as part of efforts to tackle the problem have been blocked by the UK Home Office.

Glasgow Central MP Alison Thewliss told the conference Scotland was facing a “public health crisis” but that “UK ministers continue to block plans to take vital action”.

She added: “The UK government’s cavalier attitude towards Scotland’s drugs emergency is simply appalling.”

Ms Thewliss insisted the weight of evidence in support of a safe drugs consumption facility “has never been more compelling and it is imperative that action is taken now”.

The MP stated: “UK drugs law is not working for Scotland.

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“People are dying on our streets and the risk to the general public from discarded needles and transmission of blood borne diseases is very real – yet the Tories at Westminster sit on their hands.

“The only barrier to taking real action to tackle this problem is the UK Home Office because the political will is undoubtedly there.

“Therefore, the answer is simple – devolve drugs law to Scotland so that the Scottish government can take the vital steps to tackle the drug-related deaths in Scotland.”

Additional reporting by Press Association

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