Do you think legal highs should be banned from being sold in shops near schools?
A campaign to prevent synthetic cannabis from being sold near schools has the support of Palmerston North Mayor Jono Naylor.
Palmerston North MP Iain Lees-Galloway has started an online petition asking the city council to create a policy on the sale of legal highs.
That policy, he said, should include prohibiting their sale near schools and other education providers.
"I think we all agree that we don't want to see legal highs for sale around schools, tertiary education providers or any educational facilities," Mr Lees-Galloway said.
Under the Psychoactive Substances Act, which passed last month, councils have the power to create a policy to control where legal highs may be sold. That power came from an amendment suggested by Mr Lees-Galloway.
Asked about the petition yesterday, Mr Naylor said banning legal highs from around schools "sounds like a smart move".
He said the idea would have had his support whether there was a petition or not. "I still frankly think it's ridiculous that it's going to be legal to sell this junk anyway. I would have preferred a complete ban on a product that's harmful to our society."
Mr Naylor said that with the bill passing only a few weeks ago, the council was yet to discuss its reaction to it and was unlikely to do so before elections in October.
Under the legislation, dairies, service stations and convenience stores have been banned from selling the products but specialty stores can apply for an interim licence to continue to stock them.
Interim approval allows sales to continue while products undergo testing.
Mr Naylor said that with interim licences restricting the establishment of new stores there was not an urgent need for the council to implement its own policy.
But Mr Lees-Galloway said he wanted to see a policy in place as soon as possible.
The point of the legislation was to create a tightly regulated market, he said.
Along with the ban on sales near education providers, Mr Lees-Galloway had several other ideas for the council to consider.
"I wouldn't want to see [legal high stores] opened up in residential areas; restrict them to the CBD."
He also wanted restrictions on selling times.
"People out drinking alcohol then get into their heads that they want to try legal highs, that's probably not the best idea."
He also wanted the community to have the opportunity to make submissions on applications for licences, similar to how liquor licences operate.
"I think a lot of people would want the opportunity to have their say."
Mr Lees-Galloway said there was an overwhelming message from the community in opposition to legal highs.
"There's a libertarian view that you don't have any regulation and you let the market decide - we certainly don't do that for alcohol, we don't do that for tobacco and we shouldn't do it for legal highs."
About 280 people had signed the petition since it went online several days ago, he said. The petition can be signed at iainleesgalloway.co.nz.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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