A GROUP of ex-cops are calling for Scotland to adopt a North American “legally regulated cannabis model” that would allow shops and cafes to sell weed.

Law Enforcement Action Partnership (LEAP) - who have been campaigning globally against the war on drugs for the last 19 years - will formally launch their Scottish branch tonight. 

As well as changes to laws on cannabis, they’re calling for Drug Consumption Rooms (DCRs) to be given the go-ahead, widespread distribution of the anti-overdose Naloxone, Heroin Assisted Treatment (HAT) on prescription, and drug testing facilities at nightspots and universities to allow users to know exactly what they’re taking.

Graham Goulden, a retired chief inspector of Lothian & Borders, said adopting a public health approach to drugs could help reduce Scotland’s shameful drug death numbers.

READ MORE: Cannabis could be a lucrative, sustainable crop for Scotland’s farmers

Last month, statistics from the National Records of Scotland revealed that 1264 people died a drug related death in 2019, up 6% on the previous year.

Nearly seven in 10 of those who died last year were male and more than two-thirds were aged 35–54.

According to the NRS, Scotland’s drug-death rate was higher than those reported for all the EU countries and was approximately three and a half times that of the UK as a whole.

Goulden said: "When I worked with the Scottish Violence Reduction Unit, it was clear to me that Scotland has shown courage in addressing issues of violence in our society. Drugs and violence are inextricably linked so it makes perfect sense for us to make use of a public health approach to reduce our shameful drug death numbers.” 

Other members of LEAP include James Duffy, retired police inspector and former chair of Strathclyde Police Federation, and Ian Andrew, a retired inspector of Strathclyde Police with 33 years service.

Simon McLean, a retired Crime Squad detective and undercover vice officer, said: “It’s time to take the lucrative and very dangerous market away from criminals. Organised Crime Groups only care about their ill-gotten gains and we have no control over the drugs they supply, often targeting our children and those who are most vulnerable. It’s time to treat drugs and addiction as a health issue.”  

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He added: “I spent my career infiltrating and arresting major drug rings thinking I was making a positive impact on our society. I now know for a fact that through our many ‘successes’ I was actually making the situation more dangerous, creating a marketplace where there is no rule of law, one in which anything goes in the pursuit of profit and power. Organized crime has flourished.” 

The 50 year old Misuse of Drugs Act is reserved to Westminster, and there’s seemingly little appetite for any major reform. 

In the past decade American marijuana has grown to become a billion dollar industry.

Recreational marijuana use is legal in 15 states, and decriminalised in another 16.

Marijuana Business Factbook last year predicted that it could be worth $130 billion a year to the US economy by 2024.