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UK News

Decriminalise drug possession, says next moderator of the Church of Scotland

by Kelly Valencia

The next moderator of the Scottish General Assembly believes the possession of drugs should be decriminalised.

Speaking to Premier, Rev Iain Greenshields said his “pragmatic views” came from experience working as prison chaplain.

“I really sincerely believe that it's only through Jesus Christ, and through personal faith in Jesus Christ, that a life can be healed…however, we've got to be pragmatic about it as well.”

He added that “locking up people doesn’t work” when addressing drug addiction and believes more funding should be directed towards rehabilitation centres.

He continued: "I realise that some people will throw their hands up in horror but I am not saying I support drugs, I am just being realistic and pragmatic about the situation."

The 67-year-old spent eight years serving as a chaplain at the former Longriggend Young Offenders' Institution in Airdrie, and at nearby Shotts Prison.

The minister explained how he rencountered a young man in church who had come because he was starving and on drugs, and who recognsied him: 

The man said: "'Were you a chaplain when I was in Longriggend?’ and I said 'yeah I was' and sadly didn't recognise him. He'd been in and out of prison and it was drugs, stealing in order to keep this habit going."

More than 1,300 people died of drug misuse in Scotland last year, with the country seeing a record number of deaths for the seventh year in a row.

Rev Ian Greenshields will take up the 12 month role in May, succeeding the current Moderator of the General Assembly, Lord Wallace of Tankerness.

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