Home Office rejects latest call to decriminalise illegal drugs in Scotland

The Home Office has rejected demands from some Scottish MPs to decriminalise the possession of illegal drugs.

The Home Office has restated its view that it “would not eliminate the crime committed by the illicit trade, nor would it address the harms associated with drug dependence and the misery that this can cause to families and communities”.

It was responding to calls from the Scottish Affairs Committee. Drug laws can only be amended by Westminster.

Drug rooms

The Home Office rejected proposals for a so-called ‘shooting gallery’ – where addicts can inject themselves without fear of arrest – to be opened in Glasgow last month, saying there is “no legal framework for the provision of drug consumption rooms”.

The Committee says it will push for drug laws to be devolved to Scotland if Westminster will not consider decriminalisation.

If drug laws were devolved to Scotland, decriminalisation would be expected to follow soon after, as the SNP adopted decriminalisation as official party policy last month.

SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon has also recently said devolving drugs policy to Scotland would be a “key issue” in its decision to support any minority government after the election.


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.

Most cases of possession of illegal drugs are dismissed by prosecutors.