Palmerston North City Council is entering uncharted territory in creating a policy that will further restrict the sale of legal highs.
Palmerston North MP Iain Lees-Galloway handed a petition with 586 signatures and a sheaf of comments to Palmerston North Mayor Jono Naylor yesterday.
The petition, asking the council to create a policy regulating the sale of legal highs, came about after a new store selling legal highs opened on Broadway Ave.
"We realised we needed to take action sooner than we might have thought we needed to," Mr Lees-Galloway said.
"Sometimes when making legislation in a rush you miss a few things, and I think one of the things we missed in central government is exactly how the transition period was going to work."
Along with the petition, Mr Lees-Galloway suggested restrictions on the number, location and opening hours of stores selling legal highs.
It would have suited Mr Naylor "just fine" if they had been made illegal.
"I'm disappointed that council actually has to make a plan, I'm personally really disappointed that a law has been passed that put that back on us."
Mr Naylor said he knew there was a provision in the legislation to allow councils to adopt a local policy, but didn't expect to have to implement one so soon.
"We thought the way the law was drafted would protect our community from that. [It] turns out it isn't, so it turns out we need to get moving as soon as we can."
He opened the floor to the audience for suggestions the council could consider for their "psychoactive substances plan".
Parent Esther McLean said she had experienced problems with legal highs through a family member, and wanted shops to give out information to people buying the products on where to get help.
But if that wasn't possible, she was willing to stand outside stores and do it herself. "Nothing you put in policy or procedure is going to stop this, we've got to get out there as a community."
Council head of strategy and policy Neil Miller said while research into a policy could start now, the committee process wouldn't begin until next year.
It was "uncharted territory" and they would be looking at what other councils around the country were doing, and giving careful consideration to regulations that would not be subject to legal challenge.
Earlier this week the Ministry of Health gave 46 shops throughout the country, including two in Palmerston North, interim licence approval to continue to sell legal highs.
Twenty-eight synthetic cannabis brands have also been given interim approval, and a further 33 brands, most of them types of synthetic cannabis, are still being assessed but can be legally sold for now. Approval was given if the brand had been on the market for more than three months without users reporting any serious adverse side-effects.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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