The Tories can no longer deny the need for urgent drug reform

Voters in Scotland can see that Westminster’s war on drugs has been an utterly humiliating failure.

And now, in the wake of a groundbreaking report from a UK parliamentary committee, the UK government must finally accept that fact.

Treating the UK’s drug plight as a criminal issue rather than a public health emergency has left countless victims of the crisis to fend for themselves, abandoned by an uncaring government which would rather stick its head in the sand.

The Scottish Government has been fiercely tackling the issue, with its latest proposals including the establishment of safe consumption rooms. Similar policies have had resounding success in other countries around the world.

And after a report from a Westminster committee called for the establishment of safe consumption rooms in Glasgow, it’s clear that the UK government can no longer ignore the need for urgent reform of drug laws.

The UK Home Affairs Committee published a report which calls for a review of drug classification and a new health-led approach to tackling drugs with a trial of safe consumption rooms to reduce the harm of dangerous drugs. The Scottish Government already treats problematic drug use as a public health emergency, however drugs laws are currently reserved to Westminster.

The Tories can no longer shy away from the urgent reform that is needed – to combat addiction and to save lives. They must accept the recommendations of the cross party Home Affairs Committee report and the demands the SNP has made for years for safe consumption rooms.

Safe consumption rooms are not a silver bullet when it comes to drug deaths in Scotland, but they do have a part to play in a joined up approach from every level of government to combat drug related deaths, and – as this committee has agreed – could save lives.

The Scottish Government has made bold efforts to reduce drug deaths, and progress has been made, with Scottish Government initiatives such as the roll out of take-home Naloxone and the Medication-Assisted Treatment standards praised by the Committee.

The creaking, decrepit Misuse of Drugs Act is over fifty years old and must now be reviewed as a matter of urgency. Criminalising drug users has done nothing but entrench a problem that sees far too many people die each year.

We mustn’t see more lives needlessly lost. This report is an important recognition that swift change is needed, but it must be followed with action from the UK government.

Sadly, as we’ve seen far too many times, the Tories are far more interested in playing political games than they are in saving lives, proving that to implement real change that will reduce deaths and benefit communities we need the full powers of independence.