Legal highs spur 403 submissions

CATHIE BELL
Last updated 11:30 08/04/2014

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More than 400 submissions have been received on the Marlborough District Council's draft policy to control the sale of legal highs in Blenheim's town centre.

Marlborough Mayor Alistair Sowman said 403 submissions had been lodged with the council, with 29 submitters wishing to speak at a public hearing next month.

The number of submissions was a "pretty strong indication" that there was a high level of interest in the community about the way the council was dealing with this contentious issue, he said.

In comparison, there were 356 submissions on the future of Marlborough boys' and girls' colleges, and 322 on proposed changes to the council's dog control bylaws.

The submissions will be considered by a panel of councillors, chaired by community and finance committee chairman John Leggett, before going to the committee and then full council for consideration. The panel will also include Jamie Arbuckle, Graeme Barsanti, and Cynthia Brooks.

Under the council's draft policy, selling legal highs would be allowed only in the Blenheim central business district, with 100 metres between synthetic can nabis stores. There would also be a 100m buffer zone between legal high sellers and sensitive sites such as schools.

There has been a lot of community comment about the draft policy, with many people wanting to have the legal highs banned from Marlborough all together.

The Government passed the Psychoactive Substances Act last year which legalised the sale of synthetic cannabis and gave councils the ability to make policy for their own areas - a Local Approved Products Policy - to control the location of any retailer with a licence to sell these substances. However, the act does not allow any council to ban the sale of the product.

Licences for the sale of the substances are issued through the Ministry of Health by the Psychoactive Substances Regulatory Authority.

The council aims to finalise its policy by the end of the year, ahead of the government time frame for a full licensing system operating by mid-next year.

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- The Marlborough Express

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