Increased youth drinking is being culturalised far more by a rejection of hypocritical values in society, than the lowering of the drinking age, say Christchurch social ecologists.
The prevailing "drug by drug" approach to drug and alcohol issues is fundamentally flawed, say the Mild Greens. Vital linkages and "legislative implications" become apparent when a more holistic view is taken.
"Cannabis (tried by 70-80% of young New Zealanders) is still pathetically classified as criminally harmful, while alcohol is safe, legal and advertised on TV - amphetamines and ecstasy are in increasingly common use as teens flaunt the laws, but for some reason the only variable that can be debated to protect young people is the alcohol age - How stupid is that??"
"Administrators are trying to adjust the volume, when the problem is they're tuned in on the wrong frequency", say the Mild Greens.
Even handed teenagers know they are being conned about drugs and purported "harm minimisation" so they ignore the mixed messages, and reject the value system.
Implausible "double standards" surrounding cannabis, alcohol and tobacco were found to be an obstacle to effective drug education by the Health Select Committee's Cannabis Inquiry in 1998. Liquor law reform in isolation from cannabis law reform has had predictable results in worsening these double standards, and further impeding delivery of effective health promotion.
It is expected however that the 2001 Health Select Committee, having recently completed public hearings on its Inquiry into Health Strategies relating to cannabis, will recognise that general health promotion (including sexual health) stands to benefit immeasurably by introducing fairness and honesty to drug and public health policy.
PROHIBITION is what's wrong with New Zealand, say the Mild Greens.
Legalisation will be a quantum leap out of the dark ages - if only Parliamentarians would get on with it and have the real community safety debate in the House.
"Legal regulation with a consistent age of consent and give NZ a rule of law that is logical and deserving of respect - and stop treating adults like children while expecting children to behave like adults", say the Mild Greens.
Adjusting the drinking age back to 20 is not the answer - equitable drug law is.