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Alcohol law cannot be separated from cannabis law

Press release
Aotearoa Legalise Cannabis Party
19 July 2006

Alcohol law cannot be separated from cannabis law in NZ

The Aotearoa Legalise Cannabis Party attended the hearings of the Law and Order Committee (Youth liquor harm reduction bill) in Christchurch today.

The bill is about raising the liquor purchasing age back up to 20, but ALCP pointed out raising the drinking age is only a ‘band-aid’ solution to youth binge drinking and associated bad attitudes. There are deeper cultural issues indicated as to why many youth are not responsibly observing the alcohol rules. Eighty percent of these young people have encountered cannabis.

This situation of cannabis law in disrepute undermines the alcohol rules. Unfortunately there is no age of consent for cannabis, and no age/id is required for its purchase on the black market.

So the party opposes the raising of the drinking age back to 20, because whatever the purchasing age for alcohol, Parliament really needs to review cannabis law fairly if there is to be genuine respect amongst young people.

The party highlighted the hypocrisy of criminalisation policy - which alienates many Kiwi from authority – and presented evidence that the double standards the youth perceive in the rules and regulations surrounding ‘intoxicants’are at the heart of the problem facing the committee. ALCP quoted the 1998 parliament committee which found ‘double standards are an impediment to effective anti-drug education’ (p39 (conclusions), Inquiry into the Mental Health Effects of cannabis).

Party delegates told the committee about the scorn and derision youth have for the hypocritical rules imposed on them by Parliament. “No wonder its so hard for parents and teachers and police these days”.

“Policy needs to be integrated” said president Kevin O’Connell. “You can’t tackle problems with youth drinking and other risk-taking behaviours by handling alcohol alone.”

“A consistent legal age is needed for genuine harm minimisation, which was what has been implied by two major select committee inquiries into cannabis in NZ since 1998.

ALCP had a good discussion with the MPs who acknowledged the party’s connections with and concerns for youth. However, parliamentarians need to overcome the political difficulty involved in coming out and admitting cannabis law needs to be changed.

ENDS

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