“Many people have welcomed NSW Premier Barry O’Farrell’s response to the recent spate of ‘one-punch’ assaults, but this problem has not happened overnight. A broader, long-term approach is also needed,” FamilyVoice national research officer Ros Phillips said today.
“Governments need to recognise that human brains are not fully developed until about age 25. At this age, the brain’s prefrontal cortex helps inhibit impulses and organise behaviour to reach a goal. At age 18, when teens can legally vote, drive and drink alcohol, this process is far from complete. People aged 18 are far more likely to act impulsively and take risks they would never consider when seven years older.
“Governments need to bite the bullet, grasp the nettle, and ignore the inevitable outrage from young voters in order to raise the legal drinking age back to 21,” Ros Phillips said.
“Governments also need to resist the pressure from people like Dr Alex Wodak and others who are promoting the legalisation of cannabis. The combination of alcohol and cannabis can lead to psychosis and paranoia, precisely the type of scenario that can result in ‘one-punch’, unprovoked assaults.”
Ros Phillips said that the word “assassin” (from the Arabic “hassasin” – hashish-user) was originally a name given to members of a Muslim sect who terrorised and killed Christian crusaders a thousand years ago. They primed themselves with hashish, a potent form of cannabis, before setting out on their deadly missions.
“We should not delude ourselves, as US President Obama has done, into thinking that cannabis is no more harmful than alcohol. It has very serious dangers for users and the community,” Ros Phillips said.
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