Ministers have been urged to take bold action to combat the drugs public health emergency in Scotland.
The SNP have called on Westminster to move drugs laws away from “criminalisation and prohibition” and towards “compassion and regulation”.
The party’s Commons spokesman, Tommy Sheppard, warned that “thousands of people” would continue to lose their lives to substance misuse unless there was a change in policy.
He said: “The big problem we have is that the principle piece of legislation that we look to govern this area, the 1971 Misuse of Drugs Act, is simply not fit for purpose.
“In fact, worse than that, it is a hindrance to taking action and compounds the very problems that we perceive.
Earlier today I presented a Ten Minute Rule Bill on Problem Drug Use (with cross party support). If you missed it, you can watch my speech here: https://t.co/cVczYLv1mH
— Tommy Sheppard MP (@TommySheppard) September 29, 2020
“It does this in a number of ways; first of all, by criminalising this entire area in terms of the production, distribution, supply and consumption of drugs.
“It takes any concept of regulation or control and places that firmly in the hands of organised crime, rather than public agencies.
“Secondly, by stigmatising and criminalising the end user it makes it very, very difficult for anyone caught up in this problem to seek help.
“They are often torn between the threats of violence from their supplier and the threat of arrest and detention from the police.
“Thirdly, it compromises the ability of health service workers to intervene and do something about the problem, in many cases placing them at threat of prosecution as well.
This matter will not go away. You cannot keep your head in the sand.”
“And fourthly and finally, it shrouds this entire area in ignorance and a lack of information so that we cannot shine a light on to the problem and decide what to do with it.”
Mr Sheppard told ministers: “This matter will not go away. You cannot keep your head in the sand.”
There were 1,187 drug-related deaths across Scotland in 2018 and there are fears the delayed 2019 figures will be even worse when published.