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Drinking age debate "abysmal" say ALCP

Drinking age debate "abysmal" say cannabis candidates

Release From Aotearoa Legalise Cannabis Party

Christchurch ALCP candidates are dismayed at the content of Parliamentary debate this evening on the Justice Committee "Sale of Liquor" report.

"The sad thing is that they are putting political safety ahead of youth safety" say the candidates. Blair Anderson and Kevin O'Connell, who presented the Aotearoa Legalise Cannabis Party's advice on the drinking age in April, say that the coverage of youth issues in today's debate was shallow and immature, and shows the inability of politicians to "get real" on drug issues.

"MPs are being deliberately simplistic about a problem which deserves a systematic and intelligent approach", said Mr Anderson.

Measures debated thus far in the bill ignore analysis of the fact that the youth of NZ are not listening. "International experience shows young people are unable to trust drug education messages because illegal marijuana use is perceived as less harmful than the legal drugs." This fact explains NZ's binge drinking culture and abnormal cannabis and tobacco uptake.

Last year's Health Committee inquiry fingered the marijuana-alcohol double standard as "an impediment to effective anti-drug education". However, politicians appear to be consciously sidestepping this issue, lest the distasteful failure of cannabis prohibition intrudes on the relative safety of the "controversial" drinking age conscience vote.

"While many MP's mentioned the hypocrisy of having epidemic underage drinking already, there was an aversion to the obvious holistic connection with NZ's other favorite intoxicant." said Mr O'Connell. Government MP's Maurice Williamson and Brian Neeson both made utterly ironic speeches about "forbidden fruit" and the "failure of prohibition".

The ALCP say evidence (particularly that of Neeson's Health Committee) clearly supports a consistent regulatory approach to alcohol, tobacco and cannabis, free of double standards.

The continuing inability of Parliament to view cannabis with alcohol perpetuates the adult hypocrisy which is at the root of the problem, say the candidates. The House is manufacturing an chronic impediment to effective policy initiatives, and the youth of NZ are the victims.

"Frankly, we expected better from the MMP system"- say the ALCP. Parliament is honour-bound to find and implement evidence-based solutions.

The party advise MP's and the public to review its summary analysis which is at: http://www.alcp.org.nz/alcrecs.htm

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