Mixed reaction to dairy boycott call

TALIA SHADWELL
Last updated 12:00 23/04/2013

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A call for customers to boycott Palmerston North dairies that sell legal highs amid concerns about teenage addicts has drawn a mixed response from shop owners.

The Psychoactive Substances Bill before Parliament seeks to ban substances found in products such as synthetic cannabis and puts the onus on manufacturers to prove a product is safe before it can go on the shelves.

However, Freyberg High School has called upon Palmerston North shop owners to pull the products from their shelves in anticipation of the law change, or face a community boycott.

Bruce Adams, owner of The Corner Store in Botanical Rd, said he disliked selling legal highs and planned to pull them from his shops when the law changed.

He said selling legal highs "responsibly" was a form of regulation and if his dairy did not sell them, someone less scrupulous would.

"I don't like the products. It is purely a business decision. They make money and they are legal, just like tobacco, which we also sell. But when they do become illegal we will be the happiest people on the planet," Mr Adams said.

All staff at his dairy were told to take a "hard look" at legal-high buyers. They refused to sell them to under-18s and to people suspected of having addiction problems.

Dairy owner Sangel Chen, who owns a convenience store in Rangitikei Line, said the store would continue to sell legal highs because they were not illegal, and the dairy took care to sell them to customers aged 18 years and older.

A Highbury dairy owner, who gave the name Bhavin, said he had sold legal highs for three weeks and decided to stop in response to complaints from customers. "There are many youngsters in this area and they do a lot of drinking and I just don't want to supply them with something extra. If we sell them these legal highs it does damage to their body, so if some customers see us selling it they don't like it."

The dairy owner said he felt it would be irresponsible for him to sell legal highs in the low-income community."It's only $20 for 20 grams and I'd rather they feed their kids than spend money on something that will last them only for two or three hours."

Highbury mothers Kylie Hewetson and Donna Tekura were supportive of the dairy's refusal to sell legal highs, as both had seen first-hand the damage addiction to synthetic cannabis had wreaked upon people in the community.

A 16-year-school leaver, who did not want to give her name, said teens increasingly preferred synthetic cannabinoids to cannabis.

"It's because the high is better and shorter so you can smoke it and go to school. And since it's legal you can't get kicked out of school when you get caught smoking it, just suspended."

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- The Manawatu Standard

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