Tommy Sheppard | MP for Edinburgh East

Today I published my Private Members’ Bill to enact the recommendations of the Scottish Affairs Select Committee inquiry into problem drug use. Today’s publication outlines the legislative details of a series of reforms including decriminalising possession of small amounts of restricted drugs for personal use and ensuring that overdose prevention facilities - also known as drug consumption rooms - can operate legally.

The passing of this bill would ensure excessive drug use is no longer treated as a criminal justice matter, but as a health emergency.

The Bill - the title and aims of which were first presented in September of last year - has the backing of MPs across the political spectrum and many campaign groups. The legislative changes in it are based on evidence gathered by the Scottish Affairs Select Committee in 2019 from those affected by drug use, academics, service providers and others with significant expertise in this area.

Doing nothing and hoping the problem will go away is not the answer. Yet that is what the UK government continues to do. I’m trying to make this is as easy as possible for them. The Bill contains straight forward legislative changes, which the Secretary of State could enact quickly and easily. People are dying while the UK government continues to criminalise and stigmatise some of the most vulnerable in our society. It must stop, and it must stop now. We are facing a terrible and sustained epidemic of drug deaths; at its worst in Scotland, but across the rest of the UK too. Most are preventable. This bill offers simple practical measures to stop the killing.

Opinion is changing. This bill has supporters across the House of Commons, including in the Conservative Party, and I hope the government will take these proposals seriously.

The Bill is supported by organisations including Transform Drug Policy Foundation, Release, and the Scottish Drug Forum.

Read the Bill here.

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