Efforts are underway in the Scottish parliament to bring the marijuana trade "out of the housing estates and into regulated premises," the Daily Telegraph (London) reported.
Tommy Sheridan, the Scottish Socialist Party leader, urged parliament members to support a plan in the British parliament to legalize marijuana on an experimental basis for four years. Sheridan also called for Dutch-style coffeehouses, or retail marijuana establishments, to be introduced in Scotland.
Margo MacDonald, the Scottish National Party parliament minister, meanwhile, is calling for a Scottish commission to study marijuana policy. MacDonald will meet soon with Angus MacKay, the deputy Scottish Justice Minister, to discuss her proposals. MacKay, however, has already thrown up a caution flag, noting that under United Kingdom law, legislation from the British parliament in Westminister would be required to introduce coffeehouses into Scotland.
But MacDonald's call for a new look at Scots marijuana policy is picking up support from other parties as well. Donald Gorrie, a Liberal Democrat, said, "The current system is failing and I think there should be more grown-up debate about it."
Scotland is already awaiting a report from the Scottish Advisory on Drug Misuse, which has been investigating Scottish drug cultures. Its investigations, however, have focused on harder drugs, particularly heroin.
The Board of Social Responsibility of the Church of Scotland called for decriminalization of marijuana in July 1997 -- see http://churchnet.ucsm.ac.uk/cos/socrsdec.htm for the full report. In January 1998, a former chief of the famed Scotland Yard police force called for legalization of drugs (http://www.drcnet.org/wol/027.html#scotlandyard). Scotland Yard was itself implicated in a massive prohibition-related scandal in February 1998 (http://www.drcnet.org/wol/028.html#scotlandyard). Later that year, a Scottish citizens commission, including a Catholic priest among its membership, called for the legalization of such drugs as marijuana and ecstasy (http://www.drcnet.org/wol/064.html#Scotland).