IT’S beyond sad that once again Scotland is getting the reputation of being the drug death capital of Europe. This will be a distasteful stick used to beat the independence movement by malignant Unionists.

It is infuriating though that the Scottish Government can do little about it, handicapped by reserve powers retained by Westminster. Yet the Prime Minister effectively blames the Scottish Government for inaction and causing the unnecessary overdose deaths. He says Scotland has all the powers needed to tackle drugs and drug crimes (PM’s promise to discuss safe consumption rooms for users, December 17). Clearly this cannot be true?

READ MORE: PMQs: Boris Johnson says drug consumption rooms just encourage drug use

The Scottish Government is champing at the bit to set up safe drug consumption rooms proven worldwide to prevent overdose deaths. How many times is this issue raised in Westminster by different politicians? The SNP has endorsed many conference motions to change the existing framework and adopt a modern approach to drugs

Testing the waters in the most practical way, the courageous Peter Krykant fights daily to keep his safe consumption drugs van on the streets of Glasgow without the police harassing and charging him. The Lord Advocate James Wolffe, tirelessly finds the broadest interpretations in the Misuse of Drugs Act to criminalise Peter’s life-saving initiative.

If it were permissible within the existing legislation, I am sure the Lord Advocate could find a purposive interpretation to allow Peter’s van to operate. But the present Westminster legislation is not helpful and neither is the hostile policy context.

READ MORE: Boris Johnson pledges to discuss safe drug consumption rooms for users

We absolutely need to follow the example of Portugal, which in 2001 turned its drug problems around by decriminalising all drugs for personal use and moving drug use out of the criminal sphere, making it a health matter. This context reduced deaths by overdose, HIV, use amongst teenagers and drug-related crime.

I wonder how many families would not be suffering today if we could only find the will to tackle our outmoded drugs legislation.

Portugal’s model should be hailed by all serious harm-reduction strategies. But what does our ignorant Prime Minister say with his glib, throwaway comments? He reveals his usual lack of knowledge by asserting that consumption rooms will increase drug usage and this in turn will ruin lives and drive criminality across this whole United Kingdom.

The experience of countries that have decriminalised drugs is in fact the opposite. To decriminalise drugs takes the business away from criminal gangs, and make no mistake it is a big business. A business that recruits schoolchildren to sell to other schoolchildren. A business that does not care how safe its product is.

Decriminalising drugs frees up the police for other tasks instead of arresting grannies, people with chronic pain, people like Peter Krykant trying to save the lives of ordinary people living with despair. And funnily enough, every country that has decriminalised drugs reports a reduction in use rather than the Prime Minister’s prediction of increased criminality. These outcomes are surely worth closer scrutiny?

Whilst we are in a scrutinising mood, it would be interesting to know how many people in the Westminster government have an interest in producing and exporting drugs. An exposé of the rank hypocrisy of people in power benefitting from classified drugs whilst telling others they are criminals is long overdue.

It is outrageous that these people dine out on the suffering of the masses.

In the meantime, we must consider every soul who has lost their battle to drugs, every family grieving a terrible waste, in a society that has let them down and continues so to do.

Patricia Logan