Submitters call for legal-high ban

Calls for Palmerston North to boycott the whole process of setting local controls on the sale of legal highs in favour of efforts to ban them entirely will be heard by city councillors on Monday.

Submitters John Whitelock and Milton Pedley will ask councillors to set aside a draft policy on the sale of psychoactive substances, and lobby to have them banned instead.

They are among 52 groups and individuals who have made submissions on the council's proposed Local Approved Products Policy.

The submissions overwhelmingly support tight controls on the sale of the products to limit the harm that shopkeepers, police, health and community workers and members of the public attribute to legal highs.

The exceptions are legal high retailers and their industry body, the STAR Trust, which supports regulation of a market for products "proven to pose no more than a low risk of harm".

It reminds the council it cannot use its policy to effectively prohibit the sale of legal highs, which is exactly what some of the submitters are urging.

Nigor Trading Ltd, which owns the R18 shop in Cuba St, is telling the council prohibition does not work. It wants similar rules and restrictions to those controlling the sale of alcohol and tobacco.

It says all of the city's current retailers operate in areas the council policy plans to exclude, which is probably unlawful.

"It indicates that the aim of the LAPP is to frustrate or seek to ban the sale of psychoactive substances in Palmerston North."

Some submitters have shared the view that the policy could be so restrictive as to go beyond the law.

Palmerston North MP Iain Lees-Galloway warns "an unnecessarily restrictive policy could have unintended consequences".

The Youth One Stop Shop says the substances should not have "legal" status, and while it supports council proposals for tight restrictions, it is concerned the policy could be unworkable and outside the spirit of the law.

Some have proposed relaxing restrictions, leaving churches and the court house off the list of "sensitive sites" that should be at a 50m distance from retailers.

Others have suggested controls on operating hours, that could make their presence acceptable outside the hours that facilities such as child care centres were operating.

UCOL says that bars and liquor outlets should be considered "sensitive" because of the "potential lethal combination of drugs and alcohol".

Manawatu Standard