The Taskforce Report into Drug Law Reform was published on September 6th 2021. It explores how existing legislation and its use impacts on the current situation amid the changing landscape of Scotland’s unique drug deaths challenge.
It looks at how changes in three key areas could enable a more effective national response:
Changes within the law – changes to the process and implementation of the existing legal framework, which in Scotland is the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971, itself reserved to the UK Government.
Changes to the culture surrounding the law – How the re-calibration of the outcomes we want from the implementation of drug laws and moving toward a public health approach (reducing risk and vulnerability), away from crime and punishment could transform their effect.
Changes to the Law and Regulation – The Report lists specific areas where current legislation should be amended to better fit the realities and evolving nature of Scotland’s drug and drug deaths challenge. This includes examples such as regulations regarding the prescription and supply of controlled drugs, the control of the supply of pill presses, and the introduction of safer consumption facilities. These examples, amongst others, highlight where current law acts as a barrier to the implementation of a public health approach which the Taskforce believes is a necessity.
The Taskforce Drug Law Reform Report includes 30 recommendations and their timetable for action.
The Taskforce has written to Scottish Ministers on September 17th 2021 sharing highlights of the Report and summarising the recommendations.The letter is available to view here. It has also written to the UK Government, seeking a response to 12 proposals for joint action.
The Taskforce will now consider ways to set in action the items The Report identifies as having immediacy – notably changes within the law and changes to the culture surrounding the law. It will also seek to help expedite the process of legislative reform The Report recommends.
The Report summarises the consensus views of over 100 organisations and individuals who were engaged to give expert views on Scotland’s legal framework and its implementation. These included experts in the field, including members of the Drug Deaths Taskforce, those who work in Alcohol and Drug Partnerships, Community Justice Partnerships and third sector organisations. Lived experience representatives and family members made valuable contributions throughout.
Does our current Drug Law and its implementation help or hinder efforts to prevent drug-related deaths?
The Taskforce Drug Law reform Report explores how changes to the way we implement the law, the culture behind it, and the legislation itself could enable a more effective response.
“The Report marks a moment where the view of Drug Law and its current legal framework as being about crime and punishment is now dated, and where we head toward widespread acceptance of the benefit in amending drug laws, and our use of them, to help harm reduction and help save lives.”