Scotland's drug dealers must think Christmas has come early after 'decriminalisation' – John McLellan
The last time I had a discussion with senior police officers about the legalisation of drugs their view was clear; if the aim was to put criminals out of business, it was shooting up the wrong gallery.
There are perhaps three other reasons for the sudden decriminalisation announced by Lord Advocate Dorothy Bain last week; that drug-taking is so rife there is no point, that jails are full of people with drug convictions so it’s making no difference, or it will somehow help tackle addiction.
Maybe it’s a bit of all three because selling remains a criminal offence and there is little doubt the police will have a difficult job telling whether possession is for personal use and worthy of a warning, or for sale and deserving prosecution.
The potential for collapsed cases is high, so over time the amount necessary to secure a conviction will increase.
Record drug deaths show the methadone programme has been a spectacular failure so if the aim is to improve harm reduction it’s unclear how making heroin possession effectively legal will help.
The new policy is based on the “diversion” of offenders away from prosecution to treatment, but good rehab has been cut to the bone.
What is left is not a drugs policy but a vacuum with neither the capacity to treat or control, and it will only encourage gangsters to reorganise their networks to speed up distribution in small enough amounts to allow their mules to avoid prosecution and maintain supply. They must think Christmas has come early.