Together Gibraltar reacts to Govt's drugs plan

Together Gibraltar notes the statement put out by Government launching a campaign -albeit eight years too late- to tackle the Rock's 'growing' drug problem.

Like everything else we are seeing emanating from government these days, this latest attempt at spin is one of government's most audacious and cynical one yet, this time, with the intention of pulling the wool over the eyes of one of our most vulnerable groupings in society. 

In the first instance, had the government genuinely had a commitment to tackle the growing drugs problem in Gibraltar, it would have properly prioritised the issue in the last four or eight years, given their repeated manifesto commitments towards the drugs portfolio where we have seen nothing groundbreaking materialise in the two terms that the GSLP/Libs administration has been in power.

The Chief Minister took on the drugs portfolio himself after the last election on the premise that it was such an important aspect of government policy -yet another public relations gimmick- only to cast it aside a couple of years later when the photo opportunities dried up.

Secondly, the government has been sitting on parliamentary questions on drugs by Together Party Leader Marlene Hassan Nahon for over three months now, so the only people being ignored and deprived of answers are the drug sufferers themselves.

Coming out with a shiny press release promising surveys and new websites months before an election is not what the person with active addiction needs. Addiction is a public health issue. Those with substance disorder issues need a multidisciplinary approach, a more empathetic and less punitive infrastructure. Decriminalisation (which does not mean legalisation) of certain substances found in small amounts for personal use, as introduced in Portugal and more recently in Israel, is proving positive in decreasing overall use as well as drug related crime. This would allow very necessary funding resources to be fuelled into a variety of other facilities, such as easy emergency access to the system when in crisis mode -primary and secondary intervention- and a whole host of other pathways in order to assist and rehabilitate the user in a sustainable way, as well as to help avoid this vicious circle in the first place.

We can agree with government that the situation has certainly been ignored for a long time, but it has been ignored by the very people now aping to be the ambassadors of the drug users, when many have already fallen down the wayside thanks to this administration and their broken promises and lies.

When elected into Government, Together Gibraltar promises to place the drugs portfolio along with mental health at the top of its agenda, with the added commitment to treat these sensitive portfolios and their stake holders with genuine respect and not utilise them months before an election as emotional pawns while leaving them to rot during two terms of office.