Tuesday, June 10, 2008


The report by the Scottish Parliament-backed Scotland’s Futures Forum yesterday called for radical new ways to tackle the drug problem.

But critics immediately dismissed it as “recycling failed ideas”.

Key recommendations include setting up “consumption rooms” where addicts could take drugs safely and for heroin to be prescribed.

It also suggested taxing cannabis to enable it to be more tightly regulated.

Of an estimated 51,000 heroin users in Scotland, about 21,000 are thought to use methadone to help with their addiction.

In 2006 there were 421 drug-related deaths in Scotland, the highest rate in Europe.

The think tank was established by the Scottish Parliament in 2005.

In its latest report it asked how the damage caused by alcohol and drugs in Scotland could be halved by 2025.

On the idea of “consumption rooms” chairman Frank Pignatelli said: “I don’t think the public are ready for it. But I think they could be convinced with strong evidence.”

Mr Pignatelli, a former education chief and civil servant, added: “When everything else has failed, when no one knows how to solve this health problem, under very controlled conditions we should possibly be thinking why not experiment as other countries have done with this controlled environment where there are health professionals on site. Some people are led away from that lifestyle and, in terms of public order, you don’t have people shooting up in the street and causing alarm.”

The report comes just two weeks after the Scottish Gov-ernment launched the first drugs strategy in a decade, with the emphasis on getting people off drugs.

The report’s vice chairman Tom Wood, former Deputy Chief Constable of Lothian and Borders Police, said it was based on evidence of successful initiatives elsewhere.

But Scottish Tory leader Annabel Goldie said: “So-called shooting galleries and the legalisation of cannabis are ideas of the last two decades. Fortunately in Scotland we’ve moved forward.

“The new National Drugs Strategy for Scotland, which received the unanimous backing of the Scottish Parliament last week, demonstrates a new political will in Scotland. We believe that people should be assisted to get off drugs, not helped to take them.

A spokesman for the Scot-tish Government said: “We have no current plans to introduce drug consumption rooms.

“There are complex legal and ethical issues that can’t be easily resolved.”
source: http://www.express.co.uk