Source: BBC Website
Note: "MSP" = Member of the Scottish Parliament
MSP in heroin crop purchase call
An MSP has urged the Scottish Executive to buy up Afghanistan's opium crop.
Nationalist Bill Wilson has submitted a motion calling for the issue to be investigated as part of a "national and international drugs and crime policy".
Dr Wilson acknowledged the move would be controversial but claimed the current policy of destroying Afghan opium crops was counter-productive.
A UN report published on Monday found that 90% of the world's supply of opium was produced in Afghanistan.
The West of Scotland MSP suggested that buying the crop rather than destroying it would be "highly cost-effective" both in terms of improving relations with the country and treating heroin addicts.
He said: "In Afghanistan desperately poor people rely on opium as a cash crop.
"I understand that merely attempting to destroy the crops is not only ineffective in that vast and inaccessible country but also counter-productive in that it fosters bitterness and resentment."
The MSP said that if the Scottish government was to buy the drugs crop it could be used to make medical heroin for prescribing to addicts or for use in the NHS.
The politician's motion comes after Tayside Police Chief Constable John Vine called for addicts to be given heroin free on the NHS.
Mr Vine said the time was right for a debate on "socially unacceptable options" to tackle heroin abuse and its impact on crime.
In response, Community Safety Minister Fergus Ewing said there were currently no plans in Scotland for prescribing class A drugs for long-term addicts.
However, he said he agreed with Mr Vine that there must be "a coherent policy that detains in prison the dangerous in our society, but looks to treat the troubled - like those on drugs".
Scottish Conservative leader Annabel Goldie said: "We could endlessly debate whether or not to prescribe legal drugs and buy up the world supplies.
"But the real issue is reducing dependency and dramatically cutting the number of addicts and that is where I will focus my energies when I meet with the first minister to drive forward a new agenda for tackling drugs in Scotland."
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