Scottish Green Party flags on a demonstration

The Scottish Greens have today called for drugs to be decriminalised and for an end to what they call the ‘failed’ war on drugs. A policy of moving towards a ‘public health approach’ to drugs will be included in the party’s general election manifesto set to be published in the coming weeks.

The Scottish Greens say that Scotland’s high levels of drug-related deaths indicate that reform is needed.

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.

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.”

Image credit: Ric Lander – Creative Commons