'Not our fault kids buy legal highs'
A Blenheim retailer who sells synthetic cannabis says he needs to make a living and thinks parents should take more responsibility.
Tiger Takeaways owner Jamall Henry said he hasn't been able to operate the takeaway side of his business for the past three months while the shop was being renovated.
He needed to continue selling psychoactive substances - also known as legal highs - or he and his partner would have to find new jobs, he said.
He was sick of people giving him a hard time about selling legal drugs.
"People who used to say hi to us in the street now walk past and don't say anything. It's kind of depressing."
Most people blamed the retailers for selling the product to young people, but it wasn't their fault, he said.
"They're saying we're killing these kids, but it's the parents," he said. "Why didn't they bring their kids up properly or say ‘it's bad for you, don't do it, or do it but in moderation'."
He would not say how much he sold a week but said people of all ages bought the highs.
Most of his customers were in their late 20s or 30s, he said.
Mr Henry had owned the High St business for almost four years, but it is on the market for $33,000. He had sold food and synthetic cannabis but it is illegal under the new Psychoactive Substances Act to sell both on the same premises.
He didn't own the building and the landlord had organised the renovations to divide the shop in two. Until that had been completed, he couldn't cook or sell food.
He was still selling synthetic cannabis because he needed to bring in an income, he said.
The Ministry of Health had issued him a temporary licence to sell the product, and the shop is listed as "under consideration" on the ministry's website.
"We'll just keep going until they tell us to stop," Mr Henry said.
He would prefer to sell takeaways because it was more gratifying. He and his partner prided themselves on their food and had built up a reputation around Blenheim, he said.
"We cook fish and chips and people eat it and come back," he said. "It's beautiful, you know?"
A few people had shown interest in buying the business but no serious offers had been made.
- The Marlborough Express