] Date: Sun, July 13, 1997
Source: Scotland On Sunday, Edinburgh, UK
Contact: Drug experts attack SAD's crusade

The government's own drug advisors have joined the growing chorus of 
criticism of Scotland Against Drugs.

The allparty campaign, which has received UKP4m of public money, has 
been reprimanded for its "unhelpful" approach to combating drug abuse.

This latest broadside against SAD has come from the Scottish Advisory 
Committee on Drug Misuse, the team of experts which helps the Scottish 
Secretary draw up drugs policy.

A majority of the group's members have written to Donald Dewar warning 
that: "It is our belief that Scotland Against Drugs has been, to say the 
least, unhelpful in assisting the development of an efective response to 
drug use in Scotland"  a damning verdict on an initiative planned as a 
countrywide antidrugs "crusade".

They have requested an urgent meeting with the Secretary of State to 
outline their "concerns" about SAD's activities.

The "private and confidential" letter, which has been passed to Scotland 
On Sunday, has been signed by nine of SACDM's 16 members.  They include 
health, education and social work experts, as well as drugs specialists 
including Edinburgh psychiatrist Dr Judy Greenwood.

In addition, two of the nine are also members of the UKwide Advisory 
Committee on Drug Misuse, which guides the UK government in London. One 
of them, Greater Glasgow Health Board's respected addoictions chief Dr 
Laurence Gruer, helped organise the letter.

One signatory said: "The 'just say no' approach, which SAD promotes, was 
tried in Scotland from 19781985. We had an epidemic of drug use and the 
spread of HIV and hepatitis".

Pragmatic risk reduction measures implemented first in Edinburgh and 
then Glasgow, such as needle exchanges and mwthadone prescription, had 
cut drugrelated crime and reduced drug fatalities.

SAD's "morally righteous, 'just say no', total abstentionist policy has 
already been tried. It failed", he said.

The nine want to meet Dewar "to discuss how Scotland Against Drugs can 
be effectively harnessed to the overall response to drug use in 
Scotland". That is a veiled reference to the division which SAD has 
sparked among Scotland's drug fighters with its vitriolic attacks on 
groups practising "harm reduction", the liberal policy  endorsed by the 
Scottish Office  of supporting rather than condemning drug users.

The letter claims SAD's recent Drugs Awareness Week proved counter

It "should have been an opportunity to explain to the public how 
Scotland is responding to drug use and the effective collaboration which 
is taking place", say the nine.

"Unfortunately the week has generated further confusion and acrimony, 
and left many workers in the field feeling unfairly criticised and 

Last week we revealed that senior police officers, health experts and 
members of SAD's own advisory council had criticised the campaign during 
meetings with both Dewar and Scottish Office health minister Sam 

SAD has called an emergency meeting on July 28 to discuss damaging 
recent publicity.

The Scottish Office yesterday said Dewar is deciding whether to meet the 
nine signatories, because not all members of SACDM backed the move. Four 
of the 16 experts refused to sign, and three were on holiday.

SAD campaign director David Macauley  an exofficio member of SACDM  
said yesterday he was disappointed fellow members had not cantacted him 
personally before writing to the Secretary of State.

The Scottish Office had also received letters praising SAD's work from 
other drug agencies and local authority representatives, Macauley added.