The vice-chairman of Dundee’s health and social care partnership will support an amendment calling for the decriminalisation of drugs at the SNP conference this weekend.
Councillor Ken Lynn said he believed the city would be able to set out its own, tailor-made strategy to prevent deaths if Holyrood had the power to take drugs out the hands of criminals.
His comments come as the latest statistics published by ISD Scotland on Tuesday showed more than half of the 655 registered drug users in Tayside inject heroin, higher than the Scottish rate.
Tayside has the highest rate of drug users living alone or with other users.
It also had the highest level of users in Scotland over the age of 35 who are still taking heroin, at 79%.
Scotland has the highest rate of drug deaths in Europe. In 2018, 1,187 people died a drug induced death, 66 of them in Dundee.
Mr Lynn confirmed he would be supporting an amendment set to go before the SNP conference this Sunday. It has been put forward by members of the party’s Leith and Portobello branch.
Dundee members will not be whipped into supporting the amendment, which would “allow for decriminalisation of possession and consumption of controlled drugs, so health services are not prevented from giving treatment to those who need it”. However, Mr Lynn said he was hopeful that they would join him in voting in favour of it.
Drug policy is expected to be the second item on the agenda on Sunday when the conference takes place at the P&J Live arena in Aberdeen.
The initial motion put to members, prior to the Leith group’s amendment, calls for the legalisation of safe consumption rooms.
Currently, the Home Office has control of drug legislation and has said it would not seek to decriminalise drugs or alter current laws.
Mr Lynn, who sits on the health and social care partnership and was on Dundee’s drugs commission, said: “I will fully support the amendment calling for decriminalisation.
“Decriminalising drugs is the correct and proper thing to do in order to tackle Scotland and Dundee’s drug death problem.
“This is not about turning drug addiction issues into a Westminster problem and trying to enhance the case for independence, it is about giving Scotland the power it needs to tackle the problem and save lives.
“It is common sense to have the tools to do the job required and it would help Dundee Drugs Commission come up with a tailor-made plan specific to the city’s own needs. We cannot tackle it at the moment with shackled legislation.”