COMMENT:

The cops could be forgiven for being a little confused this week with what are pretty mixed messages being sent by the lawmakers to the lawbreakers.

Earlier in the week marijuana and the utensils used to smoke it were legalised for people with terminal illnesses.

But at the same time growers and peddlers of dope are breaking the law.

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So if a cop sees someone smoking a joint they can ask for a doctor's certificate to prove they're facing the Grim Reaper but can they ask them where they got the dope from? Well presumably yes, but then they'd be seen as heartless.

So while the herbal variety is okay it seems, the synthetic version's been reclassified as a Class A drug, meaning manufacturers and peddlers of it can be sentenced to life in jail. And because of the reclassification the cops will have greater powers of search and seizure, obviously with the objective of getting the stuff off the streets altogether.

And for that the Beehive needs to be applauded considering 52 users of this insidious product have died so far this year.

But the Government's going further than that.

The cops are being told to use their discretion when it comes to picking someone up for shooting up on heroin, or for taking any drugs, including meth.

If it's for their personal use then, in other words if they don't have a stash of it for supply, then the cops are being told to chill.

The Beehive's wanting them to crackdown on the importers and distributors of drugs and to treat those taking them as poor unfortunates who need treatment.

The moves on drugs this week are a fundamental change in the way they're dealt with and are, despite what the Government says, a blind eye policy to those who are taking them. They're not quite legalised but to all intents and purposes they really are.

But is it a bad thing?

In 2001 Portugal became the first country in the world to decriminalise the possession and consumption of all illicit substances which is effectively what we're now doing.

The heroin crisis there, not unlike our synthetic cannabis problem here, abated along with dramatic drops in drug use.

Deaths from overdoses have plummeted, along with drug related crime and incarceration rates.

Drug takers are now more pitied than blamed and they're directed to agencies that can help them kick the habit.

So this week we've seen significant change with the Drug Foundation best summing it up.

If we aren't willing to address the health and wider social issues that drive drug harm, then we'll simply repeats the mistakes of the past.