Draft policy confines selling of legal highs
The Palmerston North City Council is about to consult residents on a draft legal highs policy that could test the line between restrictions and an outright ban.
The draft policy that would leave only a few spots inside the ring road where people could sell the approved products was feasible, but only marginally so, said policy analyst Julie Macdonald.
Cr Chris Teo-Sherrell said while he supported restrictions on the sale of legal highs, he was worried the council could be proposing something so harsh it would frustrate the purpose of the Psychoactive Substances Act and would be invalid.
The policy would restrict sellers to within the ring road, excluding The Square, Main St, Cuba, George, King and Queen streets, and Broadway Ave.
Yesterday's city council meeting added Church St, Rangitikei St and Fitzherbert Ave to the list.Stores selling the products would have to be at least 50 metres away from each other, and from places of education, churches, Te Manawa, Just Zilch and other ''sensitive sites''.
Hostels with more than 15 long-term residents were added to the definition by the meeting.None of the city's eight current licence holders would be allowed in their current location if the draft policy was effective.
Cr Lew Findlay, who also runs community agencies Street Van and Shepherd's Rest, said the council had to make it as difficult as it legally could for people to profit from the sale of legal highs.
''I have heard those who sell this garbage described as business people. They are not, they are legalised drug dealers.''
Cr Findlay said they sold pain and suffering, and took no responsibility for the harm that community groups had to try to heal.
Cr Tangi Utikere went further, calling the retailers ''nothing more than low life''.
He challenged suggestions that restricting legal sales would benefit gangs working the black market.
''That's just someone trying to protect their market share.''
One of those retailers, Shane Simpson, heard the debate before returning to the Naked Pie Man's shop on Fitzherbert Ave to serve customers last night.
''They can call me what they want. Everybody's entitled to their opinion, and I don't find that offensive.''
Mr Simpson said he agreed that the council should have a policy on the sale of legal highs, but the draft it had at the moment was too restrictive.
''I think they have the wrong idea about what they are there for. They are to give guidelines. A lot of them seem to think they can either allow or disallow, which is not up to them.''
Mr Simpson said he would be making a submission on the draft policy when it is put out for public consultation at the end of January.
After four weeks for submissions, the council will have a hearing.
Councillors were divided about extending the streets excluded in the original draft policy, and about including hostels as sensitive sites, but the dissenters were outnumbered.
The vote to approve the amended document for consultation was unanimous.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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