An inquiry into the drivers of drug use in Scotland has been launched by a group of MPs.
The Scottish Affairs Committee is to investigate the potential drivers of drug use in the country, reasons behind why there is a higher drug-related death toll in Scotland than the rest of the UK and whether the Scottish Parliament has the appropriate legislative powers to tackle the issue.
In 2017, there were 934 recorded drug-related deaths in Scotland; it is anticipated that the figure for 2018 will exceed 1000 preventable deaths.
The ‘Use and Misuse of Drugs in Scotland’ enquiry will seek evidence from organisations and individuals on a range of questions, including identifying the unique drivers of drug use in Scotland and the link between poverty and drugs.
The Committee also want to look at how effectively both the Scottish and UK governments work together to address problematic drug use.
Pete Wishart, chair of the committee and speaking at the launch at Crew, a young people’s harm reduction and information service in Edinburgh, said: “Scotland’s drug problem is widely known, but the drivers behind it and the reality of drugs users’ day to day lives remain largely hidden.
“The UK Government, which is responsible for drug legislation, cannot turn a blind eye to the escalating drug problem in Scotland.
“My Committee’s inquiry will uncover the truth behind drug misuse in Scotland; why drug-related deaths are on the rise, and how the UK and Scottish Government should work together to combat this worrying trend.”
The Committee will consider the following questions:
- What are the unique drivers of drugs abuse in Scotland? How is drugs misuse in Scotland different from the rest of the UK?
- To what extent does UK-wide drugs legislation affect the Scottish Government’s ability to address the specific drivers of drugs abuse in Scotland?
- What is the relationship between poverty and deprivation and problem drug use?
- What role could reserved social security policy play in addressing problem drug use?
- How is the drugs market in Scotland changing? How well do current regulations meet the challenges of new trends in drug disruption, such as the “dark web”. Are any changes needed to the current regulatory landscape?
- Are there other areas of reserved policy which is influencing the Scottish Government’s ability to address drugs misuse in Scotland?
- How effectively do the UK and Scottish Governments work together to tackle drugs misuse in Scotland? Do the UK and Scottish Governments share best practice, information and policy outcomes to help address drugs misuse in Scotland?
- Would further devolution of powers enable the Scottish Government more effectively address drugs misuse in Scotland and tailor their approach to Scotland’s needs?
- What could Scotland learn from the approach taken to tackle drug misuse in other countries?
The deadline for written submissions is Friday 12 April 2019