The US isn’t the only country with a failed drug policy. In Scotland, things are strikingly similar to what we see in the US. From flourishing black market drug trade to endless resources spent on law enforcement and incarceration, Scotland has its fair share of problems with a failed war on drugs.
Scotland’s Failed War on Drugs
In the UK, which Scotland is a part of, marijuana is strictly prohibited. The possession, use, and sale of cannabis can all lead a person to end up behind bars. Even medical marijuana is illegal in the UK. In 2014, marijuana offenses were responsible for 67 percent of all UK drug violations.
There are several that contend the last 50 years of prohibition has led to the current drug abuse and addiction crisis in Scotland. There are currently more than 380,000 Scottish individuals that suffer from drug problems. Addiction and abuse in the UK are rampant, with almost 1,000 people dying because of drugs in 2016 alone.
Glasgow is a port city on the River Clyde in Scotland’s western Lowlands. It’s famous for rich Victorian and art nouveau architecture. It’s also a city where Spice has taken a serious toll. In 2017, there was a warning about the rise of this “zombie” drug. Not only is synthetic cannabis highly dangerous and addictive, it can also be lethal.
Giving Cannabis to Prison Inmates Could Help Prevent Death
Recently, an inmate in the Scottish prison system experienced this firsthand. This wasn’t the first death in Scottish prisons from synthetic cannabis. The latest inmate death however, is what pushed pharmacologist Dr. Stephanie Sharp to push for giving cannabis to prison inmates.
Sharp knows the Scottish war on drugs has failed. She believes the only way to prevent drug-related death is through full legalization. Sharp says that giving cannabis to prison inmates could prevent death by taking synthetic cannabis commonly referred to as “Spice or “K2.”
In 2017, one prison source described the problem in the following way:
“Increasing numbers of prisoners are being taken to hospital because of spice and other so-called legal highs. It’s a worry for staff as it turns users into unhinged zombies who are impossible to predict. It gives some prisoners unusually high levels of strength and others it can make comatose. You never know what reaction you will get. It’s use in Scotland is very concerning. We’ve heard worrying reports of some prisoners taking it and being so out of it, they try to run through walls. Many though, are simply reduced to a dangerous zombie-like state where they’re unable to move.”
Both inmates and correctional officers have fatally overdosed on these synthetic drugs. This is exactly why Sharp wants prisoners to be able to use the real thing. Giving prisoners cannabis, she contends, will decrease the number of deaths from substances like Spice and K2.
Doctor Says “Accept People Will Take Drugs” …Giving Cannabis to Prison Inmates Can Keep Them Safe
Let the prisoners have the “real thing”, says Sharp, and you’re likely to prevent both prison staff and prisoners from serious health repercussions or death.
Sharp also says that legalizing and monitoring marijuana use (even amongst inmates) would help decrease the risks associated with synthetic cannabis. According to Sharp, “We should accept people will take drugs and we should keep them safe by allowing them through pharmacists.”