Drugs have been around since the beginning of time.

Traces of cannabis and opiates have been found in mummies, Queen Victoria didn’t mind some laudanum, and it’s even rumoured Jesus was a pothead. Ancient civilisations ached for their opium dens, Hitler was an IV meth addict, and I’m sure prehistoric man unearthed some psychotropic weed to gnaw on. The noughties flaunt celebrity meltdowns, and millions are addicted to prescription meds around the world.

Former ACT Supreme Court judge Ken Crispin QC has called for the regulation of recreational drugs in Australia. An overwhelming majority responded in favour in our online poll.

Most Australians will use substances this weekend, whether dropping a pill, passing a joint or enjoying a few wines with dinner. Kids will use drugs regardless. Harm minimisation recognises this and seeks to reduce the negative impacts.

But where do we draw the line between education and encouragement? Contrasted with the toxic mayhem of alcoholism and tobacco, calls to decriminalise substances like ecstasy and cannabis seem easier to understand.

Would removing the criminality offset the health implications? Is it wise to suggest smoking a joint is less harmful than ice or GHB? Is the term ‘recreational’ a misleading euphemism?

Sydney DJ Justin Scott recently lost someone to drugs. “For some, drugs are part of the clubbing/dance party experience,” he told SSO. “We shouldn’t be educating people about GHB, but rather sending a clear message this drug has a high probability of causing death.”

Indeed, the party scene — gay or straight — is indelibly linked with drugs, akin to a rite of passage for experimental teenagers. But this is changing, thanks to organisations like Twenty10.

“While it’s important to provide opportunities for young people to connect without drugs and alcohol, the reality is that on the other side of the fence are adults who use in very similar ways,” managing director Rebecca Reynolds said. “As social lubrication, to de-stress, have fun, and forget their problems.”

I’ll be sniffing around this hot-button topic in coming weeks. Till then, I wonder — with our prisons full of illicit drugs and millions hooked on prescription narcotics from their local doc, could decriminalising recreational drugs actually serve a tangible purpose?

Have your say online. Next time: Drugs and the law.

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