MORE than 50 politicians standing in Scotland at the General Election have signed up to a pledge to reform drugs laws – just two days after a campaign was launched.

Five leading health charities launched the campaign on Wednesday – HIV Scotland, Waverley Care, the Hwupenyu Project, The Hepatitis C Trust, and the Terrence Higgins Trust,

It asks candidates to commit to take a public health rather than criminal justice approach to drug policy, acknowledging the underlying causes of drug use, including poverty, homelessness and inequality.Those who sign up are also supporting changes to regulations attached to the Misuse of Drugs Act to enable the opening of a pilot drug consumption room in Glasgow, or to devolve the necessary power to the decriminalisation of possession of small amounts of drugs for personal use and to promote appropriate and non-stigmatising language when discussing drugs.

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Nathan Sparling, the chief executive of HIV Scotland, said: “It’s refreshing and encouraging to see candidates from across the political spectrum come together to pledge support for immediate

action on this public health emergency. Criminalisation has failed. It has failed the very people that drug policy should be there to protect. It’s time we accepted that and forged a new, public health-focused way forward on drug policy.”

Waverley Care, chief executive Grant Sugden said: “It is great to see so many candidates supporting our vitally important pledge to address drug use and the harm it causes to so many individuals and communities across Scotland. We need to develop a new approach ensuring individuals get help when they need it.”

Clive King, Scotland Partnerships & Development Manager of the Terrence Higgins Trust, added: “It’s heartening to see such an immediate and positive response from so many candidates to this important campaign. Hopefully this is the start of a sea change in Scottish drug policy. It is critical that our approach is evidence-based and mindful of the underlying social factors that contribute to drug use.”

There were 1187 drug-related deaths in Scotland last year, nearly triple the rate of the UK as a whole. The politicians who have backed the pledge include SNP, Labour, LibDem and Green candidates – but no Tories.