The possession of small amounts of drugs for personal use should be decriminalised across the UK, according to MPs.
The Scottish Affairs Committee said the move could help address the root causes of problem drug use.
The committee’s report makes a series of recommendations following an extensive inquiry into drug use in Scotland.
The MPs said the UK Government currently treats drugs as a criminal justice matter, but they heard “overwhelmingly” that legal sanctions are “counter-productive”.
They said a public health approach should instead inform Government policy, and that decriminalisation would help challenge key issues such as stigma when it comes to people seeking treatment.
The Department of Health and Social Care should also take over lead responsibility for drugs policy from the Home Office, the report said.
The recommendations come less than two weeks after Westminster’s Health and Social Care Committee also said some drug offences should be decriminalised, saying drug possession for personal use should be a civil matter and not a crime.
But last night a Home Office spokesman stressed that while “every drug related death is a tragedy” ministers had “no plans” to consider decriminalisation.
“It would not eliminate the crime committed by the illicit trade, nor would it address the harms associated with drug dependence and the misery that this can cause to families and communities,” they added.
Sarah Wollaston, chair of the Health and Social Care Committee, said drug use was now a “public health emergency”.
She added: “A radical approach to drug policy is needed to tackle that emergency, and I am delighted to see that the Scottish Affairs Committee has reached the same conclusion as we did, that responsibility for drugs policy should be transferred from the Home Office to the Department of Health and Social Care.
SNP MP Pete Wishart, chairman of the committee, said: “Throughout our inquiry we heard tragic accounts of the pain and suffering that problem drug use is causing in Scotland.
“If this number of people were being killed by any other illness, the Government would declare it as a public health issue and act accordingly. The evidence is clear – the criminal justice approach does not work.
“Decriminalisation is a pragmatic solution to problem drug use – reducing stigma around drug use and addiction, and encouraging people to seek treatment.
“For too long successive UK Governments have ignored the evidence on how drug policy could be improved.
“The Government must now start listening to the expert advice they are given, starting with our committee’s report, to reduce problematic drug use in Scotland and prevent the tragic loss of life.
“The Scottish Government must also ensure that health services in Scotland are properly funded, and that funding cuts are not worsening the problem.”