Our Plan for Scotland

Radical Drug Reform

Radical drug reform

For too long misery caused by serious drug abuse has not been tackled.

Political leaders in the UK have failed to follow the examples from around the world where a move away from declaring a “war on drugs” has brought real benefits.

The criminal justice system in general, and especially prisons, are filled with people who are involved in criminality because of addiction problems.

Too often people convicted of minor drug possession offences find themselves entangled in the criminal justice system, jeopardising their future employment and life chances.

Some people are still imprisoned for possession only offences.

We believe that drugs policy should be based on scientific evidence.

We will treat drug use as a health issue.

We will address the mental health, social, housing and employment problems that often accompany drug addiction.

To achieve a complete change in the Scottish approach to drug use and to reduce harm we will:

  • Work with the Sentencing Council to change prosecution and sentencing guidelines to refer those arrested for possession of drugs for personal use for treatment, education or civil penalties, ending the use of imprisonment, and allowing more enforcement efforts on supply;
  • Explore if the approach adopted in Portugal, to refer all those arrested for personal possession drug offences to an assessment panel, can bring benefits to Scotland;
  • Recognise that a large percentage of the current prison population have addiction problems and institute a step-change treatment of their addiction prior to release;
  • Provide heroin-assisted treatment where this is judged to be the safest and most effective option;
  • Take effective UK-wide action to tackle drug importation, with overseas action where necessary, and take firm action to prosecute domestic drug production.

For the UK as a whole the Liberal Democrats support a change in the law to allow cannabis for personal use.

This will remove the drug from the control of criminal gangs, allow for regulation of supply, improve safety and allow more resources to be used to tackle other criminal activity.

We will continue to set out clearly the health consequences of the use of cannabis.