Pubdate: Tue, 22 Dec 2015
Source: Daily Record (UK)
Copyright: 2015 Daily Record and Sunday Mail Ltd.
Author: Andy Philip



MacAskill Wants Change

FORMER justice secretary Kenny MacAskill has called on the SNP 
Government to stop treating drug users as criminals.

MacAskill, who served for seven years under Alex Salmond, claimed the 
war on drugs had failed across the world and said that police would 
be better targeting criminal gangs instead of low-level users.

The Scottish Government rejected the call and Labour branded his 
proposals "potentially dangerous".

MacAskill, justice secretary from 2007 to 2014, said the "winds of 
change are blowing" across the world.

He added: "There has been a recognition that the war on drugs has 
failed. Even the United States, with all its armoury, is unable to 
stem the flow as it comes from within, as much as without their land.

"The direction is for drugs policy to no longer primarily be a 
lawenforcement issue, but become a health and social one."

MacAskill went on to call for drug laws to be devolved to Holyrood.

He said: "A commission of the great and the good in our society 
should be established to review what is one of the great social ills 
of our time.

"The direction of travel should mirror that being pursued elsewhere, 
predicated more on prevention than punishment and pursuing those 
profiting whilst helping those afflicted."

In his piece in a newspaper, MacAskill also wrote that police are 
already letting people off with a warning if they're caught with 
small amounts of cannabis.

The former solicitor previously campaigned alongside police in a 
series of crackdowns on drug crime.

In 2010, he fronted an attempt to destroy gangs who were transforming 
buildings into cannabis factories.

Independent MSP John Finnie, a former policeman, backed MacAskill.

Finnie said: "Imagine if the billions poured into failed law 
enforcement had instead been directed to education and the provision 
of the full range of harmreduction treatments."

But Scottish Labour's Graeme Pearson, another former officer, said: 
"Kenny MacAskill had years as justice secretary to reform how our 
justice system works. "His proposals today, with one foot out the 
door of Holyrood, are wrong and potentially dangerous.

"In my view, recent changes to possession of cannabis to result in 
fixed warnings sends out a dangerous signal in the long term."

A Scottish Government spokeswoman said: "The classification of drugs 
is reserved to Westminster.

"Even should we gain responsibility for the issue, we have no plans 
to support the legalisation or decriminalisation of drugs."
- ---
MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom