Deputy News Editor
Prime minister Boris Johnson has been urged to make the ongoing drug crisis in Scotland a “top priority” for his government by a Scottish Conservative MSP.
Annie Wells, Conservative MSP and the Scottish Conservative public health spokesperson, has written a letter to the prime minister urging him to have the planned summit in Glasgow take place “as soon as possible”.
This comes after Number 10 had previously announced that a summit tackling drug issues in Scotland would take place before the end of 2019, but was postponed due to the winter general election.
Speaking to BBC Scotland, Wells declared she was open to the decriminalisation of drug use, as well as the use of drug consumption rooms allowing drug use in a safe environment, stating a “full, evidenced-based approach” should be taken, insisting she was “open to listening to what these issues and concerns can be.”
In her letter to the prime minister, the Glasgow MSP stated that the drug deaths summit must happen as soon as possible and that both governments need to put it at the top of their agenda.
Wells said: “I lost a neighbour, across Scotland we lost 1,187 people in 2018, and I heard from so many families who lost loved ones in 2019.
“So I’ve asked the prime minister to make the drug deaths crisis his top priority in Scotland.
“This year we should be focused on saving lives instead of getting caught up in politics and the usual constitutional blame game.”
Wells also said the drug deaths summit can be the starting point for Scotland’s government to work better together and for a renewed focus on improving treatment and rehabilitation services.
Despite Scotland having its own devolved parliament and legal system, drug policy remains a reserved matter to the UK government, with current policy outlawing possession of class A drugs in proposed drug consumption rooms.
The UK government had previously stated it does not support any change in the current law.
The Scottish government wants to see drug policy devolved to Scotland, who have insisted they want to treat the issue as a public health concern, rather than a judicial one, with the Scottish National Party who make up the current Scottish government, having devolution of drug policy as one of their main policies in the 2019 general election.
Drug death rates in Scotland are the highest in Europe, and three times higher than the average rate in the UK, according to official statistics.