Scots Govt rejects call for weaker drugs laws

The Scottish Government has rejected an appeal from a former Justice Secretary to relax drugs laws.

A spokeswoman explained that drugs classification is reserved to Westminster, adding: “Even should we gain responsibility for the issue, we have no plans to support the legalisation or decriminalisation of drugs.”

MSP and former Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill had said that Scotland should “stop locking up young people” and follow the lead of other countries where substances such as cannabis have been decriminalised.

Law and order

Mr MacAskill said it was his view that policy makers should treat drugs as a “public health problem rather than a law and order one”.

He added that the time has come for Scotland to “seek to devolve drug policy” and go “in a different direction”.

Cannabis is a very serious drug and creates very serious problems for many individuals, families and communities.

Ciarán Kelly

MacAskill was in charge of criminal justice policy, which covers drugs, for seven years during Alex Salmond’s Government.


He previously campaigned alongside police in an attempt to crack down on drug crime. In 2010, he led an effort to catch gangs that were turning buildings into cannabis factories.

Scottish Labour MSP Graeme Pearson also spoke out against MacAskill’s appeal, describing the proposals as “wrong and potentially dangerous”.

He added that a recent change in drugs law enforcement, to use fines and warnings rather than arresting people caught with cannabis, sends out a “dangerous signal in the long term”.

Serious problem

From the beginning of next year Scottish police officers will start issuing new ‘Recorded Police Warnings’ to people who are caught with cannabis.

Head of Communications at The Christian Institute Ciarán Kelly warned that the new measures will embolden drug users and could ultimately lead to “legalising cannabis by the back door”.

He said: “This change implies that cannabis is not a serious drug and should be dealt with leniently.

“But cannabis is a very serious drug and creates very serious problems for many individuals, families and communities.”

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