SNP calls for Edinburgh ‘drug checking’ service to test samples of dangerous drugs

The SNP is calling for a 'drug checking' service to be provided in Edinburgh which would allow people to have samples of drugs tested.
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Finlay McFarlane, SNP councillor has said that drug checking could save lives and also connect people to counselling and other vital services. Crew 2000, the Edinburgh-based drugs harm reduction charity, has campaigned for drug checking arguing that it can contribute to public health surveillance of drug markets in local areas. If dangerous samples are identified the service can send out warnings about the risks.

Drug deaths have more than doubled in Edinburgh in the last decade to 109 in 2021, up from the 48 reported in 2011. Last year also saw the second highest number of overdoses in Scotland, which remains the drug death capital of Europe.

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Edinburgh SNP councillor Finlay McFarlane who proposed the motion motion to the Full Council meeting on Thursday said: “Until such times as the UK Government finally ends the failed ‘war on drugs’ and updates the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 we must do all we can within the limits of devolution in Scotland to take forward a public health response to drug misuse.

The SNP is calling for a drugs checking service in EdinburghThe SNP is calling for a drugs checking service in Edinburgh
The SNP is calling for a drugs checking service in Edinburgh

“I am proud to be again pressing the issue by asking the City of Edinburgh Council to explore how an Edinburgh Drug Checking system might operate. By enabling people who use drugs to assess risk, understand the potency or veracity of the substance in which they are going to take and can provide a judgement free way of accessing other harm reduction services such as counselling and support.

"Not only does this empower individuals to mitigate risks, but it can also allow for public health surveillance of what drug markets in local areas – if a particularly dangerous sample of a drug is identified then the service can issue tailored public health alerts to warn others in the community.

“This is not about condoning or condemning the use of drugs, but taking a public health approach to mitigate the harms that can be caused and potentially save lives. We await the results of the Scottish Governments research into this area in Dundee, Aberdeen and Glasgow and hope that we can crack on with an Edinburgh solution as soon as possible.”

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