Speaking ahead of the ministerial statement to Parliament tomorrow on drugs, Scottish Liberal Democrat health spokesperson Alex Cole-Hamilton MSP commented:
"Scotland has had record numbers of deaths for years, now reaching levels three and half times that of both the rest of the UK and anywhere else in Europe. The creation of a drugs minister must be accompanied by a reset of policy.
"At the outset of this session of Parliament, ministers described the situation as a legacy of misuse that stretched back for decades, but at that same moment they chose to make a devastating 22 per cent cut to drug and alcohol partnership budgets. Services and expertise that people relied upon were surrendered, and we're still feeling the impact.
"Scottish Liberal Democrats are asking the new minister to put recovery first. The Scottish Government should look again at our long-held proposals, including those they voted down last January. We're leagues behind international best practice so we need to close that gap, stop imprisoning people caught with drugs for personal use and create routes for diversion and treatment, and work with the Lord Advocate to use powers to their limits."