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Mayor joins call to get tough on legal highs

CATHIE BELL
Last updated 07:33 27/03/2014

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Marlborough Mayor Alistair Sowman is joining forces with other mayors to petition the Government to toughen up on legal highs and outlaw the products.

Mr Sowman said the legislation did not meet the public wishes and allowed only for control of these substances, not a ban.

The Government is consulting on regulations for the Psychoactive Substances Act 2013 which sets out the regulatory powers provided to control the psychoactive substance market.

Mr Sowman said yesterday he, along with other South Island mayors, signed a petition calling on the Government to change the law to ban these products.

Councils, including the Marlborough District Council, are in the process of setting up their own regimes to control the sale of legal highs in their jurisdications.

Mr Sowman said councils have no option but to set their own policies, as the law did not allow them to enforce an outright ban.

"We don't think that situation is right, but in the meantime, we are working within the law to set a policy that is as stringent as possible. So we need members of the Marlborough public to get their submissions in to us quickly."

Mr Sowman also urged people to make a submission to the Government through the nationwide consultation process underway on the national regulations. "People can work on both fronts to combat the use of these substances." Submissions on the council's legal high policy should reach the council no later than 5pm on Friday.

Meanwhile, the Blenheim Residents' and Ratepayers' Association has written to the council saying it felt legal highs should be banned, but recognised that if the council did that, it might be overturned, leaving no controls at all on the sale of the products.

Chairwoman Deedee Bancroft said in a letter to the council: "There is unanimous disapproval that these substances should be introduced into our communities in any shape or form given the atrocious track record they have had already on the mental and physical wellbeing of those using such substances.

Ms Bancroft said the council's draft policy and the alternatives were generally felt to be clear, but the association considered it "negligent" that the council had not got the message across that it did not have the power to ban the sale of legal highs in Marlborough. They felt more people would have made more informed submissions if they had been aware of this.

 

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- The Marlborough Express

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