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Be tough on legal highs

Last updated 14:14 10/02/2014

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The council shouldn't get bogged down in the detail . . . the community has given a clear message they don't want these things. Colin King Kaikoura MP

The Marlborough District Council needs to show courage and set a high bar for rules around the selling of legal highs, Kaikoura MP Colin King says.

The council is setting rules for the sales of synthetic cannabis, and councillors at a meeting last week to approve a draft policy blamed bad legislation for forcing them to allow the sales of the drugs.

Mr King said it was easy for the council to blame the law but he called on them to be tough.

"The community has given a clear message they don't want these things."

Direction from the Health Ministry to councils would be received "in time" he said, and that would give the council "courage to be firm".

He favoured a 200-metre buffer zone between retailers, saying if the two legal high sellers in Blenheim's central business district were 191m apart now, they could be "grandfathered" in with "existing user rights", and any new retailer could be 200m away.

"The council shouldn't get bogged down in the detail . . . the community has given clear message they don't want these things."

The council's community and finance committee last week proposed a buffer zone between legal high sellers and sensitive sites such as schools to 100m, and also proposed that retailers be limited to a small central business district zone, with 100m between synthetic cannabis stores.

Councillors criticised the law around legal highs. Committee chairman John Leggett saying it was badly written and did not give councils the powers to control them in the same way as the sale of alcohol.

The Government had made the drugs legal, so the council could not ban them. It could limit where they were sold, but not their hours of sale.

The council is expected to issue the draft policy for a month of public consultation after the full council meeting on February 27, with the goal of having a policy in place by the end of the year.


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- The Marlborough Express

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