Scottish Greens call for drug decriminalisation

The war on drugs has failed.

It is time to end the failed and damaging ‘war on drugs’ approach to drug misuse, say the Scottish Greens. The party will be calling for decriminalisation and a public health approach to drug policy as part of its manifesto, set to be published in the weeks ahead.

Despite having some of the worst drug-related death figures in Europe, reform in Scotland has been far too slow. The situation has been made worse by the severe constraints of devolution and a lack of cooperation from the UK government. 

The party's Co-leader Patrick Harvie said: “Far too many lives have been impacted by a system that is doing more harm than good. Successive governments have stuck to the same failed policies for far too long, and the human cost has been terrible.

“Every death from drug misuse is an avoidable human tragedy, but the bold reform we need has been held back by a stubborn and dogmatic Tory approach and a preference for fighting constitutional battles rather than providing help and support to people who need it.

"Our focus has to be on harm reduction. Drug misuse is a public health issue and it must be treated as one. That means supporting the many people, families and communities being affected by it, rather than continuing to prioritise criminalisation and punishment for its own sake.

“We must learn from countries such as Portugal, where decriminalisation of personal possession and a change to a health-led approach has hugely reduced the stigma associated with addiction and encouraged people to seek help. It has been transformational, and Portugal now has some of the lowest drug-related deaths in Europe. 

Mr Harvie added: “One of the biggest barriers to reform has been the UK government. Whoever is in Downing Street after July 4th must do better. That means actively supporting the rollout of safe consumption rooms in Scotland’s cities and allowing more widespread use of drug checking services, as is already common across Europe.

“We need action from all levels of government. The war on drugs has failed, so why have so many governments stuck to it? We can’t have even more years of a broken status quo that is actively harming people and causing premature and avoidable deaths.”

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