The owner of the Palmerston North shop that sparked a petition for a Local Government legal-high policy says his attempts to move the controversial store have been inhibited by the Ministry of Health.
The Paradise owner Prabhat "Steve" Kumar opened the R18 shop in Broadway Ave in August and immediately came under fire for opening the store in such close proximity to the Palmerston North UCOL campus.
A petition was handed to the Palmerston North City Council , asking it to develop a policy to regulate the number, location and opening hours of legal-high retailers in the city.
The shop has yet to have its interim licence granted, but Mr Kumar said he has been told by the Ministry of Health that his licence application was connected to the address of his store and would not be valid for another location if he moved.
Mr Kumar said he thought the licence was issued to the individual, rather than the store.
He would be happy to move his store if he could, and intended to when it came time to apply for a full licence, which was expected to be before the end of the year.
"If the Ministry allow I am happy to move, because we respect the community's wishes."
He would not say where he might move his store.
Mr Kumar, who moved to Palmerston North from Greymouth, opened a store of the same name in the small West Coast town in the same month as its northern counterpart.
But he closed it a week later on the eve of a public protest, according to reports in the Greymouth Star.
He told the newspaper he had "no more interest in running that kind of shop", and was looking into owning another kind of shop, possibly a cafe.
A psychoactive substances regulatory authority official said applications for interim licences could be made by individuals or companies, but all licences were associated with identifiable premises.
The interim licence associated with the premises is valid only until the end of the transitional period, expected to be finished by the end of the year.
The interim licence application states among its conditions that "you must not sell psychoactive products from any other premises other than the retail premises detailed in this application".
A business that did move premises may have its licence suspended, the official said.
However, R18 Shop owner Nicholas Seja said he notified the Ministry of Health when he relocated his store from Cuba St to Rangitikei St, and it was deemed "no problem".
The authority would not comment on specific cases. Final decisions on outstanding interim licence applications were expected to be made by the end of the month.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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