Scotland’s Lord Advocate has said that drug consumption rooms are not permissible under current law, amid efforts to open one in Glasgow.
The rooms, branded ‘shooting galleries’, allow heroin addicts to inject themselves without fear of arrest.
It comes as latest figures reveal Scotland has the worst drug death rates in the Western world.
While the Lord Advocate James Wolffe QC has advised the police not to refer those caught in possession of illegal drugs for prosecution, he told MSPs last week that this does not make drug consumption rooms legal.
He said that changes would need to be made to the Misuse of Drugs Act, but this is not a devolved power, and Westminster says it has no plans to change the law.
Glasgow Conservative MSP Adam Tomkins said: “I’m not in favour of either decriminalisation or making it easier for people to shoot up in the streets of my city.”
He revealed that while visiting a jobs crisis centre in Glasgow, drug addicts told him: “The one thing you do not want to do is to make it easier for us to take heroin”.
Scotland is in the midst of a drug epidemic, with just under 1,200 people dying as a result of drug taking last year – a rate of 218 deaths per million people.
Despite this, possession of illegal drugs has become ‘virtually decriminalised’, with most cases being dismissed by prosecutors.
Only 19 per cent of the 32,000 recorded offences made it to court, and just three per cent of cases resulted in a prison sentence.
Methadone – the substitute drug prescribed to heroin addicts – accounted for more deaths than heroin itself, and was responsible for nearly half of all deaths.
Scotland has been accused of ‘parking’ addicts on methadone indefinitely, with one man revealing in 2016 he had been taking it for 21 years.
Professor Neil McKegany, of the Centre for Substance Use Research, said the methadone programme was “out of control” and was a “black hole into which people are disappearing”.