As the Scottish Parliament debates safe injecting facilities, Scottish Liberal Democrat health spokesperson Alex Cole-Hamilton MSP has reaffirmed his support for such facilities and called for new steps to educate people on the dangers drugs pose and tackle record numbers of drug deaths.
Mr Cole-Hamilton's amendment to the Government's motion calls for:
- the adoption of evidence-led drug policies to protect public health;
- the introduction of heroin assisted treatment;
- drug and alcohol service budgets to be protected;
- ending the destructive use of imprisonment for people misusing drugs and instead diverting them to treatment and education;
- the decriminalisation of the possession of drugs for personal use including the introduction of a regulated market for cannabis.
Mr Cole-Hamilton MSP said:
“With a record 700 deaths now caused by drug use each year, it is essential that Scotland learn from the experience of other countries that have taken radical steps to reduce unnecessary and tragic drug-related deaths.
"Those who misuse drugs are often among the most vulnerable in our society and anything we can do to reduce harm to them is a step in the right direction.
“Under the SNP we have seen dramatic cuts to drug and alcohol services and existing drug law enforcement strategies are failing.
“For many years the Liberal Democrat have supported a policy of decriminalisation of drug possession for personal use and the provision of heroin assisted treatment clinics as a way of reducing both harm to the individual and to society. Liberalising our approach to cannabis is particularly vital. Patients are missing out on medical benefits from cannabis therapies, police time is being wasted, and the treasury is missing out on an income stream that a regulated cannabis market would provide. These policies are firmly in the mainstream when it comes to medical and scientific evidence and international best practice.
"It is time for a new approach to prevent unnecessary deaths, alleviate the burden on our NHS and free up the justice system to tackle the people and organised crime groups producing and dealing drugs. The Scottish Government should get behind this.”