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Scotland’s drugs policy minister seeks four nations meeting on law change

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SCOTLAND’S drugs policy minister has called for a four nations meeting to discuss reform of drugs legislation.

Angela Constance has written to Home Office minister Kit Malthouse, also seeking to discuss overdose prevention facilities and pill presses.

In her letter, Constance said there is support from experts across Europe on the benefits of overdose prevention facilities.

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She said she had been encouraged by Malthouse’s recent comments around widening the availability of overdose treatments.

The Scottish Government recently established a taskforce to tackle the country’s drugs deaths crisis.

READ MORE: New funding announced to fight crisis of drugs deaths in Scotland

She said: “I was also encouraged recently to read of your aspiration to work with all of the devolved administrations to ‘tackle drug misuse, tighten controls on dangerous substances and widen the availability of treatments which prevent overdose deaths’, and I wondered if you were including overdose prevention facilities amongst those possible treatment options?

“A lot of these issues seemed to come up in the recent cross-party parliamentary session that took place to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Misuse of Drugs Act (MDA).

“This session, and the ongoing campaign to reform the MDA, is yet another reminder of the need for us to adopt a public health approach to problem substance use in order to best help protect communities and lives devastated by illicit drugs.

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“As you will likely be aware, we are currently taking forward a piece of work through the drug deaths taskforce regarding drug law reform which is exploring the barriers that the current legislation has on our ability to provide a public health response to this crisis.

“I would welcome an opportunity to discuss this with you and the other devolved administrations at a future four nations meeting.”

Constance also said she is keen to establish drugs checking facilities to deal with street benzodiazepines, due to the “lack of understanding around what people are taking”.

READ MORE: Scottish Greens call for an end to Scotland’s ‘failed war on drugs’

Malthouse, who is the Home Office minister for crime and policing, said: “Drugs can devastate lives, ruin families and damage communities.

“This Government’s approach to them remains clear – we must prevent drug misuse in our communities and support people through treatment and recovery.

“Tackling drug misuse is a priority for this Government and we are clear that action is needed across all four nations to reduce the harms caused.

“We are committed to working across the UK and have regular contact with the Scottish Government at ministerial and official level on this issue.”

The Home Office says drug consumption rooms are not legal in the UK, though it will give consideration to new evidence on their harms and benefits.

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