Do you want to legalise all drugs?
No. We want to change the way that we deal with people who are caught with small amounts of drugs for personal use.
The current approach to tackling drug abuse has failed. Putting people who are caught with small amounts of drugs in prison doesn’t help them get clean or reduce the chance of their reoffending. In fact, it jeopardises what stability they do have, such as housing or work.
Under our plans, people convicted of drug dealing would still face tough criminal sanctions. But people found with small amounts of drugs would be referred for treatment and education first to try and help them turn their lives around.
We want to institute a step-change and stop treating addiction as a crime.
So you would be letting them off with a warning?
No. Our plan would see people referred to treatment to try and get them healthy. If they fail to turn up or refuse to cooperate then other sanctions would be available.
In Portugal, people caught with small amounts of drugs are referred to an assessment panel whodecide what sort of approach might work to get people off drugs. We need to see whether this could work here too.
Why is this important?
Drugs cause huge damage in communities right across Scotland but the way that we tackle drug abuse has failed.
Sending people to prison when what they really need is medical support they need to kick their habit is no long term solution.
Drug abuse is linked to crime and puts huge pressure on our NHS. It costs society £3.6 billion a year – that’s £900 for every adult in Scotland. We cannot afford to continue on this path. It is time that we changed the way we deal with drugs based on the best scientific evidence of what works.
What about the dealers?
Dealers would still face the full force of the law. We support increasing enforcement efforts against people who choose to sell drugs in our communities. Our policy would actually free up police and prison staff to deal with more serious offenders – those who cause harm to others, rather than themselves.