The Australian government is planning a blanket ban on all 'psycho-active' substances. A spokesperson for the government said that they are having trouble keeping the list of banned drugs up-to-date. "No sooner do we put a substance on the list" she said, "Than someone changes it or renames it and it isn't covered any longer." It is claimed that having a blanket ban on all such drugs will save time and effort spent in keeping track of new drugs.
'Psycho-active' is taken to mean that it affects the mind in some way. The term is deliberately not very well defined in the proposed legislation so that it will have a broad meaning that can be interpreted widely when new drugs are made or become available. Interpretation will be within the province of the Minister for Health.
It was pointed out to the Minister that some psycho-active drugs are of benefit to medicine and to people suffering some mental disabilities. The Minister responded that provision will be made for licensing certain people, such as the medical profession, to use and prescribe such drugs as are needed. There will be procedures and security requirements to be observed by licensed people to safeguard the general public and prevent abuse.
Immediately the government announced its intentions there was an outcry from scientists and psychologists. The government responded that the ban is needed to protect ordinary people and those people who are complaining, will if suitable, be able to apply for permits once the legislation is passed, so they shouldn't worry about it at the moment.
It was pointed out to the Minister that such a blanket ban might have unintended repercussions. For instance, coffee and tea drinkers would have to apply for permits, as would anyone drinking alcohol. If the list of substances requiring permits is to be interpreted broadly, it will also include such commonly used 'psycho-active substances" as chocolate, aspirin, sleeping tablets and a long list of other substances that make a person feel good or happy.
The Minister declined to discuss the implications of the interpretation of "psycho-active" until the legislation is in place. He said "Such minor problems as to what a few unusual words mean can be sorted out when the ban is actually in and working." He added "Most people know what we mean by the word and will do what we want and obey the law without question." He refused to discuss such "shilly-shallying with words" as he called it. He said "It will all be sorted out later. Leave it to us, we know what we mean the legislation to achieve and that's all that matters. It is not the place of ordinary people to question the government's intentions"
Dr Alan Jones, Professor of Law at Nationwide University said that such legislation is very controversial and many people are concerned about how it would work. There is also concern amongst legal practitioners that leaving the definition of 'psycho-active' so broad might impinge on other person's civil rights. He added "If as has been suggested, 'psycho-active' could include common substances such as chocolate, then there is a great need to be careful and to define the word carefully." He added that all Law practitioners will be watching closely and expecting a lot of work on arrests under the new laws.
The issue of substance control, and what governments can and should do about it, is currently troubling and controversial to many people. The British government is said to be in the process of composing legislation similar to the Australian, and other governments are actively considering bringing in legislation to control psycho-active drugs.