Council revising legal high plan

JANINE RANKIN
Last updated 12:00 17/06/2014

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Palmerston North is just one week away from having a policy restricting where legal highs can be sold in the city, even though there are no such products allowed on the market at the moment.

The city council's community development committee last night recommended the council adopt a policy that is slightly less restrictive than one considered in April.

It is a policy that Mayor Jono Naylor hoped would never have to be imposed, because possibly no psychoactive substances would be able to pass safety tests and be approved for sale in future. "It may be a moot point but it will be good to have this in place, should these substances ever become legal again."

The council received public calls and submissions demanding it do everything in its power to stop the harm people believed legal highs were inflicting on the community.

Naylor said he could never understand why any of the potions had been legal in the first place.

Since the council last considered its policy, the Government has bowed to pressure to change the law to stop the sale of legal highs, pending new regulations around how their safety could be assured.

Councillor Lew Findlay said he hoped the Government would never allow any psychoactive substance on the market again.

"While we are waiting to see what the Government is going to do, there are already some organisations making available herbal mixtures to people on the street."

Former legal highs retailer Shane Simpson said the council should wait rather than risk having a redundant or non-complying policy.

"It's trying to close the gate before you have even bought the bull," he said.

He said the council should wait and see whether its policy would be in line with new regulations the industry was expecting.

Simpson had previously criticised the council's draft local approved products policy for being too restrictive, and potentially in breach of the psychoactive substances legislation, which earlier intended to allow for controlled sales.

The council delayed adopting the policy in April while it sought legal advice on whether it was testing the line between controls and a total ban.

Legal counsel John Annabell said he was concerned that the areas available for retailers were minimal, restricted to two small pockets in the north-west corner of the inner city, and two pockets alongside Cook St and on Princess St south of Church St.

Annabell said the original policy was extremely restrictive, and although not amounting to total prohibition, it could have been challenged in the High Court.

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Based on his recommendations, the council is likely to loosen the restrictions slightly.

The policy drops the naming of inner city streets where sales would be banned, retains a 50-metre buffer around sensitive sites, and requires a 75m separation between outlets.

- Manawatu Standard

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