The Scotsman Virtual Election Hustings: Scottish Conservatives candidate says party should abandon opposition to safe consumption rooms

A Scottish Conservative candidate has called for his party to abandon its long-running opposition to safe consumption rooms - a move that would effectively see it back the decriminalisation of drugs in Scotland.

Several expert bodies, including the Royal College of Physicians in Edinburgh, insist that safe consumption rooms - where drug users are given clean equipment and medically supervised - are essential for tackling the opioid epidemic.

Speaking at The Scotsman’s virtual Hustings on Tuesday evening, Douglas Lumsden said the scale of Scotland’s drugs death critis was “actually shameful”, and added that he would like his party’s policy on safe consumption “to be reviewed in the future”.

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Such a change would, however, also put the Scottish Tories at odds with their English counterparts.

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Ministers at the Home Office, which controls national drug policy, have blocked previous attempts to legalise safe consumption rooms in Scotland.

Despite that, Mr Lumsden, who is standing in Aberdeen Central, insisted it was “wrong to try and make it a constitutional issue as the SNP often do.”

Fergus Mutch of the SNP called the crisis “a massive public health problem” and admitted his party had not done “nearly enough” to address it.

Speaking at The Scotsman’s virtual Hustings on Tuesday evening, Douglas Lumsden said he would like his party’s policy on safe consumption “to be reviewed in the future”.

He also agreed that the issue was not a constitutional one, and vowed to work with other parties to make progress on it.

Meanwhile, Labour’s Michael Marra told the Hustings that he believed the Scottish Government could deliver safe consumption rooms with existing powers.

“There are, I believe, the legal powers at the moment to do that right here and now. We cannot allow this to be come a [constitutional] issue.”

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