NICOLA Sturgeon has highlighted powers over drugs legislation as a “key issue” for any post-election agreements. The First Minister said in the absence of Scottish independence, legal powers should be devolved to Holyrood.

Her comments came after the Scottish Affairs Committee at Westminster recommended the possession of drugs for personal use be decriminalised, as well as the institution of safer consumption facilities – which Scottish ministers have been attempting to set up in Glasgow. The conclusions were presented in a report published following a comprehensive inquiry into drugs misuse in Scotland.

Drug deaths claimed the lives of 1187 people in Scotland in 2018, leading several politicians to call for a more health-based approach to addiction.

READ MORE: MPs call for decriminalisation of low-level drug possession

While the First Minister has ruled out any official coalition with other parties, if the SNP are in a position to support a minority government, Sturgeon has said the issue of drugs will be an important one.

She told reporters as she hit the campaign trail in Cambuslang, South Lanarkshire: “There are a number of things that would be important to the SNP and [drugs policy] would certainly be one of those things. This is an issue – unlike some of the other issues that we believe is important – [that] is something that we can have as a non-party political issue.

“I think there is a realisation that this is a public health emergency we face, the Scottish Government has powers and resources and it’s our responsibility to use those effectively. But, I think there’s a growing consensus that we could do more and be more effective if some of the powers currently held at Westminster were devolved here. That will be a key issue in any post-election discussion, whatever the parliamentary arithmetic might be.”

Sturgeon said she did not want to commit herself to providing more funding for drugs treatment in the next Scottish Budget due to a delay to the Westminster Budget, meaning the amount of money in the block grant to Scotland would be unclear.

She said: “I announced additional money for drug treatment services in the Programme for Government in September, which is important.

“I’m not going to get into details about a Budget just now, because it would be inappropriate to do so.

“However, the drugs emergency and the health service will always be at the forefront of any Budget considerations of the Scottish Government.”

The SNP leader also said Scotland could “hold the balance of power” following the election. She added: “It’s an incredibly powerful position for the country to be in.

“The SNP, although we’ve made it clear we won’t go into an official coalition with any other party, we want to make sure that Scotland’s influence is maximised.”

The Times reported yesterday that the SNP are about to engage in “access talks” with civil servants in Whitehall, detailing their priorities following the election. According to the FM, indyref2 and protecting the NHS in trade negotiations are among the party’s main policies, along with the devolution of drugs policy.