Scotland proposes decriminalisation of illegal substances – allowing possession

The Scottish government is looking at proposals to decriminalise all drugs in a bid to lower the sky-high death rate.

Scotland has the highest drug death rate in the UK and Europe, with around 90 people dying from narcotics per month.

Now the Scottish government is proposing a major change that would see drugs decriminalised in a bid to help people rather than punish them.

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It says the aim of the move would be to "help and support people rather than criminalise and stigmatise them".

The Scottish government has however run into resistance from the UK government which runs general drug policy.

Westminster says that such a move would be concerning and doesn’t plan to allow the Scottish government to enact the proposal.

Scotland's drug-related deaths fell by 279 last year to the lowest total in five years, but its ministers still want to bring in the controversial policy in a bid to make that number lower still.

Other models around the world have been looked at and discussed by the Scottish government in a bid to bolster its argument.

Among those is Portugal, which in 2001 relaxed its drug policy and despite having roughly double the population of Scotland has far fewer deaths.

It has some 10.3million residents compared to Scotland’s 5.5, but suffered just 74 drug deaths in 2021 compared with Scotland’s 1,330.

There, dealing and trafficking remain illegal but if a user is detained and has no indication they intend to sell, they are simply let go – although the drugs are confiscated.

They can however end up being referred to the Commission for the Dissuasion of Drug Use because while drugs are decriminalised, they are not legal either.

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