Drug regulations across the globe appear to becoming a little more lax, with medical marijuana legal in many U.S. states and the Americas moving toward treating drug use as a public health issue instead of a war against drug lords. New Zealand is about to relax drug laws one step further by potentially becoming the first country to openly permit the manufacture and recreational use of "low risk" designer drugs.

The new laws, which were proposed to a parliamentary committee on Thursday, will allow manufacturers to sell any unregulated psychoactive substance, such as bath salts or meow meow, if they can demonstrate it has a "low risk of harm." The law would also prohibit any new substance from sale until it's been scientifically proven to be low risk. New Zealand will set up a new regulatory authority, along with a committee of experts that will be able to advise them. This is the first law in the world that will regulate recreational use of designer drugs, according to New Scientist.

"The new law will put the onus on industry to demonstrate their products are low-risk, using a similar testing process to pharmaceuticals," said Ross Bell, of the New Zealand Drug Foundation. The foundation works to reduce the number of people hurt by drugs.

"The neat thing about this is that it says to the industry, 'we'll let you create a market for your products, but you have to play by the rules and not do stupid things like label substances as 'plant food' or 'bath salts,'" Bell told New Scientist.

Regulators hope that by passing this legislation they'll be able to stop the creation of new designer drugs, which are created every time another one gets banned. In Europe, the number of designer drugs has been climbing for quite some time. There were 24 new designer drugs in 2009, 41 new drugs in 2010, and 73 last year. Meanwhile, in the U.S., all synthetic marijuana drugs, two bath salts, and nine 2C hallucinogens — which cause auditory and visual hallucinations — are listed as schedule I controlled substances.

As schedule I controlled substances they are listed in the same category as marijuana, heroin, and MDMA, with a high potential for abuse, no currently accepted medical use, and a lack of scientific data verifying that it's safe to use.

Regulators believe that the new regulations will slow down the proliferation of new drugs, and bring relief to people in the community whose family members have been harmed from using designer drugs. In New Zealand, designer drugs are more popular because it's much harder for citizens to access drugs such as ecstasy or methamphetamines.

"Our existing control mechanisms operate too slowly to allow the government to adequately respond to the harm caused by some of these substances," Todd McClay, New Zealand's associate minister of health, told New Scientist.

Other experts believe this could be the beginning of a collapse on drug prohibition.

"My hope is this will lead to a major change in the international laws," David Nutt, former chair of the UK's Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs, said. He believes evidence-based policy is a smart direction for drug regulation to go.

Alex Wodak, former director of alcohol and drug services at St. Vincent's Hospital in Sydney, Australia, thinks it's already happening, and cited countries such as Uruguay and Bolivia, both of which have taken steps to weaken bans on drugs.

The U.S. is not exempt from the relaxation of laws either. Washington and Colorado have also become the first two states to legalize the recreational use of marijuana, and Alaska is close behind. Under these laws, it is expected that marijuana will be regulated similarly to alcohol. There will be blood-level limits for driving and limits on how much one can carry. The drug will most likely be subjected to taxes and isn't permitted to cross state lines.

Although marijuana remains illegal in New Zealand despite its widespread use, "you have to start somewhere — may as well start with synthetic drugs," Wodak said.