One of the leading figures in Dundee’s fight against drug addiction has admitted she does not hold out much hope for the SNP’s vote to legalise possession.
Sharon Brand, one of the key figures behind Recovery Dundee, said the party is essentially going round in circles after similar calls have made by members in recent years.
Recovery Dundee offers support for people dealing with addiction issues. Its Recovery Cafe in Beans and Berries has become a regular fixture in the city and Ms Brand has spoken in Holyrood about living through addiction.
Making possession of illicit drugs legal was one of the big announcements at the annual SNP conference in Aberdeen over the weekend, with party members voting overwhelmingly in favour of the position.
The party also called for drug laws to be devolved as they are currently reserved to Westminster.
Drug deaths continue to rise in Scotland, with Dundee having the worst rate in the country.
The Scottish Government established a task force earlier this year in the face of increasing numbers of drug related deaths, but Ms Brand has called for a public inquiry into the matter.
She said: “Everyone has been calling it a public health emergency, but they haven’t called a public health inquiry.
“I’ve backed legalisation for a long time now, but this was mentioned in 2017 and it’s not really moved on much, so 1,000 people will die before anything is done at this rate.
“If drug laws are devolved, then the SNP will by default get their goal of independence as it’s one of the main things left still reserved. I think that’s their main concern, not the people who are dying.”
Addaction, on the other hand, was more supportive of the SNP’s pledge.
Director Andrew Horne said: “We warmly welcome the SNP’s decision.
“Trying to arrest our way out of the problem has been a monumental failure, so it’s heartening to see a political party listening to the evidence base.
“People who develop problems with drugs need compassion and support, not punishment.
“Decriminalisation would be a big step forward, but it’s only the first part of a longer journey. We need to embrace more radical harm reduction measure like drug testing, so that people know what they are taking, and drug consumption rooms, which make drug use safer and engage people in services they may not otherwise access.”
A Scottish Government spokeswoman said: “We have been absolutely clear what Scotland faces in terms of drug-related deaths is an emergency. To determine what more can be done to save lives, the public health minister has convened a Drugs Death Taskforce to advice on what further charges, in practice or in law, could help save lives and reduce harm.
“During its first meeting, the taskforce considered the best way to ensure the voices of those with lives and living experience are heard, as their views and insight will be central.
“They also discussed the use of harm reduction interventions.”