The Catholic Church in Scotland has criticised the SNP for calling for the decriminalisation of the possession and consumption of drugs.
Members at last week’s party conference overwhelmingly voted in favour of a pivot in the party’s drug policy.
An amendment on decriminalisation was accepted to the agenda motion calling for the devolution of drugs powers from Westminster to Holyrood.
Of the 1,187 people who died in 2018 in Scotland from drug-related deaths 66 of them were in Dundee, which sits within the Diocese of Dunkeld.
Bishop Stephen Robson, of Dunkeld Diocese told Scottish Catholic Observer: “This is an extremely retrograde and dangerous policy for the SNP to pursue in the present climate.
“Is this the kind of Scotland the SNP wants to build for the future of our country’s children?
“Our young people face enormous pressures from society, major psychological issues, which sadly result in a large number of suicides.”
He continued: “Dundee, at the heart of the Dunkeld Diocese, has recently been given the worst suicide rate in mainland Scotland for the second year in a row.
“These are big challenges and we play our part in helping combat these issues by supporting those that need it most within our parishes.
“I think we have lost the battle on a number of issues but we must not ever derail from our values and principles just because modern society rejects them.”
The policy was supported by Dundee SNP members, with council leader John Alexander saying the decriminalisation of drugs would be beneficial to help tackle the city’s drug death toll. He said: “This is a positive move and one which I have, personally, long supported.
“The Dundee Drug Commission, among many others, has explored in great detail the approaches taken internationally such as decriminalisation. It has helped Portugal, for example, make huge inroads into tackling drug use.
“What is abundantly clear is there is no one response to the drugs crisis but today’s decision provides one hugely positive step forward to taking that international learning and putting it into practice.
“It doesn’t mean a soft approach to drug dealing as is sometimes misrepresented.
“It is part of a response but not the only one.”