HERE are, it seems, changes afoot Tin the Island’s attitudes towards illegal drugs.

In a short press release issued by the government just before the bank holiday weekend, it was announced that there would now be less emphasis on urging people not to take illegal substances, and greater focus on how to reduce risk of serious harm if they do.

In other words, the ‘drugs are bad’ message will be dropped.

Of course, Public Health would prefer it if you ‘just say no’. But there is an obvious greater awareness now that the world is changing, that tried and tested messages no longer work and that perhaps it is time that Jersey got with the programme.

This was abundantly clear in a separate, and entirely unrelated, story which appeared in the same edition as the aforementioned article.

In a wide-ranging interview with the JEP, Health Minister Helen Miles accepted that the Island did not ‘exist in a bubble’ and that a substance-abuse strategy was needed.

An important part of this, she said, was a review of whether cannabis possession should be decriminalised.

These two stories sat just a page apart in the same edition by pure chance – but it demonstrates that politicians and health officials are seemingly pulling in the same direction.

And it is highly likely that as far as cannabis is concerned, the Island has never been closer to the reform of laws concerning simple possession.

A pre-election survey by End Cannabis Prohibition Jersey found that the majority of candidates favoured a ‘progressive’ approach to the drug.

Fourteen of those went further, and said they supported either decriminalising or legalising cannabis.

Many of those candidates are now elected Members – who may at some point in the not too distant future be asked to publicly share their thoughts on the class B drug during a States debate.

Only a few years ago, moves to allow medical cannabis to be prescribed in Jersey faced months of debate, with some opponents raising questions over its medicinal qualities and voicing concerns that it would lead to wider recreational use.

Although the government has no idea how many Islanders are prescribed the drug, it is estimated there are around 3,000 private medicinal cannabis patients in the Island.

Those heated States debates of a few years ago seem a world away now.

Perhaps it is time for the States to test the public mood and conduct a review of its wider use.