Scottish Government needs a new era of drugs policy radicalism

Speaking ahead of the publication of new drugs deaths statistics which are expected to show that Scotland is once again the drugs death capital of Europe, Scottish Liberal Democrat health spokesperson Alex Cole-Hamilton MSP has today urged the Scottish Government to kickstart a new era of drugs policy radicalism. 

The party is urging the Scottish Government to: 

  • take radical steps with the prosecution authorities and the Lord Advocate to help establish heroin assisted treatment and safe consumption spaces. 
  • establish new specialist Family Drug and Alcohol Commissions to help provide wraparound services and to take a holistic approach to those reported for drug offences, learning from best international practice such as that in Portugal.  
  • Divert people caught in possession of drugs for personal use into education, treatment and recovery, ceasing imprisonment in these circumstances. 
  • Adopt the principle that individuals and families shouldn’t have to pay for the care and treatment of those at risk of death from drugs or alcohol. 


These proposals build on two landmark votes at Parliament won recently by the Scottish Liberal Democrats, first securing support for the principle of decriminalisation and then requesting that the new Lord Advocate immediately get to work on it.

Mr Cole-Hamilton said: 

“The former SNP Justice Secretary openly admits that his party chose to look away rather than address the scars of Scottish drugs misuse, for fear that it would distract from the pursuit of independence. Nicola Sturgeon chose to cut the budget by 22%. The fallout from those decisions is being felt every day. Ministerial apologies now won't bring those people back.

“Liberal Democrats have led the way in making the case for an evidence-based approach to drug policy for years. 

“We need a new era of drugs policy radicalism to finally turn the corner on drugs misuse and ensure that we are treating people with compassion and health treatment, rather than prosecution.” 


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