Scotland Lawmakers Are Officially Pushing to Decriminalize All Drugs
Scotland's ruling party wants to treat drug addiction as a health issue, but the conservative UK Parliament retains full authority over the country's drug laws.
Published on October 14, 2019

Scotland's leading political party has unanimously approved a resolution calling for full decriminalization of the possession or use of any drug.

The resolution, approved last Sunday by the Scottish National Party (SNP), calls the United Kingdom's current drug prohibition laws “not fit for purpose in 21st Century Scotland,” according to Marijuana Moment. The resolution proposes that the UK Parliament amend the 1971 Misuse of Drugs Act “to allow for decriminalization of possession and consumption of controlled drugs so that health services are not prevented from giving treatment to those who need it.”

Last year, Scotland reported 1,187 drug-related deaths — three times the rate of the UK as a whole, and the highest death rate in the entire European Union. The SNP's new resolution recommends that the government consider drug use and abuse as a public health crisis, freeing up police to tackle serious offenders instead of targeting individual drug users.

“Our law enforcement agencies are focused on the weak and vulnerable at the bottom of the pyramid, when they should be focused on the organized criminals at the top,” said Scottish Member of Parliament (MP) Tommy Sheppard, Marijuana Moment reports.

“Decriminalization demystifies drugs and places them firmly in the health arena,” MP Ronnie Cowan said at the conference. “Drug policy is about a mindset. Decriminalization changes the mindset and by changing that you can treat people as human beings and we can start a recovery process.”

The SNP has proposed a number of progressive drug reform amendments in recent years, including one that would create safe consumption sites for addicts to help prevent overdoses. The UK Parliament sets all of the country’s drug laws, however, and this conservative body has consistently blocked Scotland's attempts to modernize their current drug policies.

Gallery — Drug Advertisements From the 20th Century:

Recognizing that the UK Parliament is likely to ignore the request to decriminalize all drugs throughout the entire country, the SNP's new resolution asks that Scotland be granted the right to draft its own drug policies. At the conference, MP Sheppard called on the UK government to “give Scotland the ability to do it instead, because we will take the steps necessary.”

“The UK government’s cavalier attitude towards Scotland’s drugs emergency is simply appalling,” said MP Alison Thewliss. “People are dying on our streets and the risk to the general public from discarded needles and transmission of blood borne diseases is very real — yet the Tories at Westminster sit on their hands.”

The UK Labour Party has said they would create a Royal Commission aimed at reviewing the UK's drug laws as a whole. The Labour Party would only be able to create this commission if they won a majority seat in Parliament during the country's next election, however, which is uncertain given the country's recent embrace of conservative leadership.

Chris Moore
Chris Moore is a New York-based writer who has written for Mass Appeal while also mixing records and producing electronic music.
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