"It is illegal to buy or possess alcohol if you are under 21."
by David J. Hanson, Ph.D.
“It is illegal to buy or possess alcohol if you are under 21” asserts the freevibe.com website. This is a U.S. government website, part of the Office of National Drug Control Policy’s National Youth Anti-Drug Media Campaign. Unfortunately, the assertion is clearly false.
Citizens have a right to expect, even demand, that government agencies present factually correct information. The National Minimum Drinking Age Act of 1984 specifically prohibits purchase and public possession of alcoholic beverages. It does not prohibit persons under 21 (also called youth or minors) from drinking. The term "public possession" is strictly defined and does not apply to possession for the following:
- An established religious purpose, when accompanied by a parent, spouse or legal guardian age 21 or older
- Medical purposes when prescribed or administered by a licensed physician, pharmacist, dentist, nurse, hospital or medical institution
- In private clubs or establishments
- In the course of lawful employment by a duly licensed manufacturer, wholesaler or retailer.” 1 (Emphasis in original. Conspicuously not emphasized is the significant fact that “the law does not prohibit persons under 21 (also called youth or minors) from drinking.”)
The U.S. General Accounting Office (GAO) subsequently identified 19 states which did not specifically prohibit the consumption of alcohol by persons under the age of 21. Additionally, a large number of states permit possession and consumption of alcohol by those under age 21 under a variety of situations.
Apparently the intent of the government website is to convey the false impression that drinking under the age of 21 is always illegal.
Ironically, the federal website warns readers to be careful about the accuracy of what they find on the Web. It issues the following caution: “When you're surfing the Web, think about who put up the Web site you're looking at. Do they really know what they're talking about?” Apparently, the Office of National Drug Control policy either doesn’t know what it’s talking about or intends to deceive readers.
The government website also issues the following warning: “If you drink--stop! The longer you ignore the real facts, the more chances you take with your life.”
Better advice might be this: If you visit freevibe.com -- stop! The more of it you read, the more likely you are to get incorrect and misleading information.
- Government Attacks Drinking with junk Science
- Federal Agencies: Temperance Approach toward Alcohol
- Federal Government Research: Can It be Trusted?
- Government’s “Alcohol Information”
- How Accurate are Statistics on Drinking Problems?
- Alcohol Abuse Statistics: A Report
- Alcohol Use and Abuse: How to “Lie” with Statistics
- Legal Drinking Age