IT IS A DEPRESSING sign of the times that a walk through Haddington on any given morning can be accompanied by the sickly sweet scent of someone smoking a joint.

The abandon with which a drug which is, let’s not forget, illegal is freely and openly used is astonishing.

Most of the users who have given up any pretence of hiding their cannabis use are young men.

And why should they hide it? There are no police officers patrolling along the River Tyne or our residential streets.

Even if our local beat officers picked up the unmistakeable smell, I would question whether they would consider it worth their while to take any action.

Regardless of where you stand in the debate over cannabis, it offends me that people have become so blasé about the lack of police presence in East Lothian that they believe they can light up on the street, in their gardens, and in our parks.

What concerns me more is that cannabis has, in the past, been described as a recreational drug, but these young men are not using it recreationally.

They seem to need it to get to work in the morning, need it in the evening and during the night – I’ve even passed work vans parked at lunchtime with clouds of cannabis fumes coming out of their open windows!

If they need it just to get through the day then that is a problem, and it is a problem which is not going to go away by us all turning a blind eye.

These young men are getting behind the wheel of their cars; and some will be working on construction sites.

If they don’t end up on disability because of an accident caused because their minds were fogged and their senses dulled they are likely to have had their brains fried by the time they reach 30.

Leaving this generation to go to pot is criminal in itself.