Serious overhaul of drugs strategy needed in light of record number of deaths

A serious overhaul of the government's drugs strategy is needed in light of new figures showing a record number of drug-related deaths in Scotland, according to Scottish Greens justice spokesperson John Finnie MSP.

The National Records of Scotland figures show there were 934 deaths in 2017, 66 (8 per cent) more than in 2016 and more than double the figure for 2007 (455). 

John Finnie MSP, Justice spokesperson for the Scottish Greens, and Co-Convenor of Holyrood’s Cross Party Group on Drug and Alcohol Misuse, said:

“These figures are the strongest evidence yet that the Scottish Government needs to deliver a serious overhaul of its drugs strategy, rather than just refreshing an approach that is obviously failing or taking the doomed Tory approach of fighting a ‘war on drugs’ that only serves to further punish communities. We need a joined-up approach that focuses on individual circumstances such as housing, health and income – all of these factors relate to this growing tragedy. And we cannot shy away from a discussion on decriminalisation, as most drug use should be tackled as a public health issue rather than a crime.

“There will be regressive voices in politics calling for an inhumane approach, failing to acknowledge their own role in visiting poverty upon our communities. But Scotland is better than that, and we must ensure evidence and logic prevail, and that we invest in our communities to prevent drug-related deaths.”