THE Government's new drug strategy has been dismissed as an “opportunity lost”.

Home Secretary Amber Rudd launched the report yesterday morning, promising to look beyond the traditional “abstinence-only” approach to drug treatment.

Rudd she was determined to confront the scale of this issue.

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“This government has driven a tough law-enforcement response in the UK and at our borders, but this must go hand-in-hand with prevention and recovery. This new strategy brings together police, health, community and global partners to clamp down on the illicit drug trade, safeguard the most vulnerable, and help those affected to turn their lives around. We must follow through with our commitment to work together towards a common goal: a society free from the harms caused by drugs.”

SNP Ronnie Cowan said the strategy was too focussed on justice and not enough on health.

“The UK Government report launched today has failed to address the core issue. Despite a few nods in the direction of health care, the UK Government has fundamentally missed the point, again,” he said.

“While I welcome the talk about a renewed focus on the importance of evidence-based drug treatment services and moves to address underlying factors such as inadequate housing, unemployment and mental health problems the big message is about ‘tough law enforcement’.

“When is the government going to comprehend that drug reform is a health issue and the war on drugs, as it has been waged for the last hundred years, has failed?

“We will never bring it to and end while our primary focus is stamping down on dealers and users. In continuing to do that we marginalise the very people we should be seeking to help. This is a cowardly report and an opportunity lost.”

So-called legal highs and chemsex, where drugs like GHB and mephedrone are used as part of sexual activity, were the main target in the strategy.

Drug laws are reserved to Westminster, though the care and policing is obviously the responsibility of the Scottish Parliament.

The Home Office say they will not providing more money to fund the strategy.

Sarah Newton, the under secretary of state at the department told the BBC it was “about linking up the services that are already there in a much smarter way.”

Lib Dem health spokesman Norman Lamb said: “This drugs strategy is doomed to failure. Rehabilitation services are already being stretched to breaking point, now the government is expecting them to do more with less.

“It is a colossal wasted opportunity... The best way to tackle the public health disaster caused by drug dependence is to focus spending on rehabilitation, instead of wasting millions on criminalising users.”

Alex Stevens, a Professor in Criminal Justice at the University of Kent, and a member of the government’s Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs, was scathing, and accused ministers of ignoring evidence.

“The other development that the government is missing is the worldwide move towards reduction of the illicit cannabis market.

“The United Nations recently called for repeal of laws that punish people for possessing drugs. This has already been done in Portugal, with beneficial results. Countries like Canada, Uruguay and several states in the USA are going further than this by creating legal markets for cannabis. The government’s claim that liberalisation will inevitably increase drug use and harms is contradicted by its own report.”