Anger at frustrating law on legal highs

16:00, Feb 22 2014

The Government has "completely missed the point" in its approach to legal highs, Marlborough mayor Alistair Sowman says.

Mr Sowman said communities such as those in Marlborough wanted the products banned, not just controlled.

"We think it's wrong that as local councillors we're being expected to create a regime to cover the sale of a product which we don't want to see sold in our town."

A consultation paper on the Psychoactive Substances Act 2013 was issued on Wednesday, asking for feedback on the regulatory powers provided to control the legal-highs market.

Marlborough District councillors at a meeting two weeks ago were angry the act left them with inadequate powers to manage a local regime to control sales.

Council community and finance committee chairman John Leggett, a lawyer, said the law was badly written and did not give councils the powers to control legal highs in the same way as alcohol sales could be regulated.


The council's draft policy proposes a buffer zone between legal-high sellers and sensitive sites such as schools to 100 metres, and that retailers be limited to a small central business district zone, with 100 metres between synthetic cannabis stores.

The policy would go out for public consultation at the end of the month.

Mr Sowman said he intended to make a submission to the government over its legal highs legislation, and he urges others to do so.

"The Government has completely missed the point in its approach to legal highs."

Councils had insufficient scope to write a bylaw which would effectively ban legal highs from sale inside their central business districts, he said.

It would have been better for everyone if the Government had taken a strong stand instead of passing the problem to councils to try to enforce controls and regulations.

The Marlborough Express