It IS unfortunate that Neil McKeganey, the director of the Centre for Drug Misuse Research in Glasgow, persists in writing as if decriminalising possession of drugs was the same as legalising drugs (Perspective, 16 January).
There were 584 drug-related deaths registered in Scotland in 2011, more than any previous year. Over half were related to heroin or methadone. Heroin is highly addictive and quickly results in mental and physical dependence, so that addicts have a compulsion to acquire heroin at any cost, which drives them to theft, prostitution or dealing. Over half the growing prison population is there for drug- related offences.
To decriminalise possession recognises that treating addicts as criminals with legal sanctions, such as imprisonment, only makes matters worse. A recent British Medical Association report, Drug of Dependence; the Role of Medical Professionals, says that people addicted to illegal drugs such as heroin have a medical condition and should be treated as such. This is not the same as legalising drugs, and those who profit from dealing in illegal drugs should be vigorously pursued by the law.
Dumfries and Galloway