The Scottish Liberal Democrats have called for sweeping changes in drugs policy – including partial decriminalisation and the creation of a “regulated cannabis market”.
The party has announced it has sent a 10-point plan to ministers, which leaders believe will tackle the current drugs problem in Scotland, which killed 1,187 people in 2018…
Health spokesman Alex Cole-Hamilton, who unveiled the plan, has called on the Scottish Government to back the proposals, which include diversionary treatment for people caught in possession of drugs for their own use instead of being sent to prison.
The plan also suggests the Scottish Government “back a regulated cannabis market” in a bid to rid organised crime of their control over the drug. [The Press and Journal]
The 10-point plan states:
- A ministerial commitment to protect the budgets of alcohol and drug partnerships for the duration of the strategy, after the Scottish Government implemented a 20% cut to services in 2016/17;
- A ministerial commitment to cease sending people caught in possession of drugs for their own personal use to prison, as happens hundreds of times a year, and instead send them for treatment and education;
- An explanation of why drug treatment and testing orders, which the strategy says “can have a positive impact on both drug use and offending”, were only used 37 times in response to 3,600 convictions for possession in 2017/18;
- Local authorities to make licensing decisions based on venues’ efforts to keep their customers safe, instead of punishing them for incidents on their premises;
- The Scottish Government to back a regulated cannabis market, taking it out of the hands of criminals and tackling trends including increased potency which the strategy describes as “concerning”;
- The Scottish Government to establish proposals for a Scotland-wide network for the provision of heroin-assisted treatment, expanding on preliminary plans for a site in Glasgow;
- Drug-testing to be deployed at localities where there is a need, allowing at-risk users to find out what is in a substance and offer advice on harm reduction;
- Adverse childhood experiences to be routinely recorded as recommended by Scottish Government advisor Sir Harry Burns;
- Additional action to address neonatal abstinence syndrome through support for expectant mothers; and
- The minimum unit price of alcohol to be raised to 60p to meet the policy’s original ambition and account for inflation in the years that the policy’s implementation was delayed.
This plan is similar to the approach London Mayor candidate Siobhan Benita is also campaigning on.
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