Author Archives: Ben Lawrie

Reflections on my first year as Drugs Policy spokesperson

It’s been a year since Alex Cole-Hamilton appointed me  Scottish Lib Dem  spokesperson for Drugs Policy. This is a new portfolio shadowing the Minister for Drugs Policy Angela Constance in response to an increasing trend of drug-related deaths in Scotland that has made us the Overdose Capital of Europe.

Since my appointment I have sought to learn, make connections and speak to people most affected by substance misuse while putting forward common sense proposals such as accelerating the rollout of Naloxone (overdose prevention kits), introducing supervised consumption centres, and calling for widespread drug law reform at the UK level. Here’s one TV interview with GB News where I put forward such proposals:

My primary focus  is reducing overdoses and drug-related deaths.  My first job involved travelling to Holyrood to attend a vigil  for Overdose Awareness Day.

I spoke to people who have lived with addictions and families who have lost loved ones to overdose. I even had the honour of meeting Peter Krykant, a former addict who took action into his own hands to start up Scotland’s first ever mobile overdose prevention centre in the back of a van. After being shown around the back of Peter’s old ambulance which  he’s modified into a mobile safe consumption centre, and upon hearing about all the lives he had saved, I was struck by the power of direct action, and how often it’s ordinary people taking matters in to their own hands who achieve far more than Government Ministers ever can.

Posted in News | Tagged , , and | 4 Comments

A letter to disheartened Layla supporters

In the aftermath of our leadership election, emotions are high. I know there are people disappointed by the result. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a little disheartened to be on the losing side. I know Ed is a great liberal, a caring person, and a hugely credible environmental campaigner and I’m still a Liberal Democrat at the end of the day no matter what.

With that said, many of you saw the need for new energy, a fresh start and a revitalisation of our party.

The leadership is only one aspect of our party and one piece of the puzzle. Please don’t give up.

Local, Scottish and Welsh elections are approaching.

We have lots of fresh faced, energetic and bright young talent in the party. People who embody what it is we loved about Layla in the first place. People like Molly Nolan in Caithness, Sutherland & Ross and Jenny Marr in the Scottish Borders.

Support them. Lift them up.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged | 37 Comments

Liberalism vs. authoritarianism in the debate over cannabis

 

In York, conference voted to create a regulatory framework for cannabis. This is a move that I wholeheartedly support and I’d like to draw on the example of Colorado to explain why.

On the 1st of January 2014, Colorado fully legalised cannabis for recreational purposes. Within four months they raised $10 million dollars in tax revenue which they invested in education and infrastructure.

Crime dropped by 10% and violent crime dropped by 5%. The marijuana industry also created thousands of jobs and by October unemployment was at its lowest since 2008.

Colorado also legalised marijuana for medicinal purposes meaning that people suffering from ailments such as chronic pain and cancer could effectively alleviate their pain without fear of prosecution or risking their freedom.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged and | 32 Comments
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