The GSD yesterday defended its record on drugs policy and said it will “continue to lead” in the area having set out a strategy based on education, support and care.
In a statement, the Opposition said the strategy is the culmination of almost a year’s worth of work and included outreach and listening to experts in and out of the community.
The GSD said it has a track record by having pioneered in the area of addiction rehabilitation through the hard work of many but in particular former GSD Minister Hubert Corby and the Bruce’s Farm Trust employees at the time.
“It is lamentable that the project has not changed much in the past eight years, other than by diminishing the numbers of beds offered,” the party said in a statement.
The GSD previously committed to providing alternative pathways to the criminal route based on care, education and support to those caught with Class A or B drugs that amount to personal use.
Depending on the class and quantity of drugs this is to include specifically designed classes, compulsory attendance at support group meetings and/or community service. The same is to apply to those who test positive in A&E.
But, the GSD explained, the fallback position should users not wish to engage in alternative pathways is that drugs will remain as illegal and criminal substances in law.
This tackles the recreational users but the party also published its wider vision on drugs.
This includes providing a crisis care and management team to assist addicts in the community at times of need.
With respect to rehabilitation the GSD advocated attempting to rehabilitate users from home as much as possible and diversifying the rehabilitation programme as far as possible.
The party would also look to provide a system of seamless transition from pre-rehabilitation to rehabilitation to aftercare.
The party would further focus on employment for recovering addicts in the form of supported internships and increasing aftercare services.
The GSD also advocates tougher sentences for importers and distributors of drugs but vowed to end the “cliché” ‘war on drugs’ stance with a balanced, measured and sensible approach that would see law enforcement officers work with drug support workers.
GSD MP Lawrence Llamas said: “It is unfair for anyone, in particular Together Gibraltar, to suggest we lack vision, leadership and conviction when we have set out our deeply consulted policy months ago.”
“We have done our homework and reached out extensively culminating in a published approach based on education, support and care with the default position in law remaining illegal.”
“It is important not just as a politician but as a parent to ensure we all understand, especially our youth, that serious actions have consequences and to mitigate those consequences it is going to require will power and commitment.”