America is realising the futility of an all-out war on drugs and Scotland needs to do so too – Kenny MacAskill MP

Beyond Donald Trump’s defeat, the only saving grace of the American elections was the progress on drug reform. Almost everywhere that a vote for change was on the ballot success was had.

Police carry out a drugs raid in Edinburgh (Picture: Neil Hanna)
Police carry out a drugs raid in Edinburgh (Picture: Neil Hanna)

In some states, it was simply a more liberal view on some aspects, such as the legalisation of marijuana, but in Oregon it was decriminalisation.

There’s a long way to go but it’s a start of rolling back what has been more than 50 years of a brutal war waged against their own people and invariably the poorest and most marginalised. It was shown starkly in a documentary that I recently watched entitled 13TH and available on Netflix for any who may be interested.

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Scotland 'going backwards' in tackling drug deaths

It showed how it started under President Richard Nixon as a way of criminalising and demonising those who they saw as the enemy within, as opposition to the Vietnam War grew. That was intensified by Ronald Reagan and, by the time Bill Clinton came to office, Democrats needing to seem tough on law and order took it to a new level with Joe Biden, then a senator, cheerleading as militarised police and mass incarceration commenced.

At least time is being called on that in a north-eastern state and others are realising the futility of all-out war.

But meanwhile here in Scotland, a man has been charged for seeking to help those addicted. Those that are hooked can’t just say no anymore here than they can in the USA.

Peter Krykant’s alleged crime is to be doing what the state should be doing in providing supervision and support. It’s something that’s been shown to save lives elsewhere and, given the carnage in some of our communities, that’s badly needed here.

The Misuse of Drugs Act’s reserved to Westminster and blame ultimately lies there. But the Scottish government has to show willing and seek devolution of powers and the Crown requires to stop the harassment of those trying to help.

It can’t be put in the ‘shoosh til indy’ box and there’s prosecutorial discretion. It doesn’t need to be this way. If America can change, so must we.

Kenny MacAskill is the SNP MP for East Lothian

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