Stirling University student petitions Parliament for free drug tests

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University of Stirling student Andy Paterson has launched a petition asking the Scottish Government to provide free testing kits for drugs in public spaces.

Paterson, who is a fourth-year student of Politics, has created a petition through the Scottish Parliament website to “provide free testing kits for drugs in public spaces such as local pharmacies, libraries, and university buildings”.

“The main goal is to provide a safe way for people living in Scotland to test their drugs for lethal doses or substances that would be lethal to take due to the issues of cutting drugs with nasty substances,” Paterson said.

The other goal is to tackle the stigma around using drugs, “so those who use drugs or those dependent on drugs can speak to someone about their usage,” Paterson said.

In 2021, Scotland recorded 1,130 drug-related deaths according to the National Records of Scotland, only nine deaths less than in 2020. 

As the petition states, in 2020, during the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic, more under 65s died of drug overdoses than of Covid-19.

Paterson thinks the current drugs crisis should be treated as a health issue that the Scottish Government could tackle without the support from Westminster.

“The laws around drugs are reserved to Westminster – but health is a devolved power,” Paterson said.

Paterson is also one of the people behind the Help Not Harm campaign by the Scottish Socialist Youth Society, which committed the Students’ Union at the University of Stirling to provide free drug testing kits for their students.

The petition has 62 signatures at the moment, but signatures are not vital to its success because, as all Parliament petitions do, it only needs one signature – from the petition’s writer.

Anyone, no matter their age, can petition the Scottish Parliament and if their petition complies with the rules, it will be discussed by the Public Petitions Committee, who may refer it to another committee or make recommendations to the Government. 

There are currently four active petitions beside Paterson’s one, each collecting signatures for the period of four weeks.

You can find the petition here.

Feature image credit: Andy Paterson

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Fourth year journalism student at the University of Stirling and Brig's politics editor.

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