Porirua to develop legal-high restriction policy

TESSA JOHNSTONE
Last updated 05:00 12/04/2014

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Porirua City Council has been urged to put the toughest restrictions it can on the sale of legal highs as police fear young users are causing increased crime in the area.

Police area commander Paul Basham said police suspected synthetic cannabis had become a driver for burglary and theft, with young people in particular stealing to keep up their habit.

"We're increasingly receiving information from the community which points to some concerns, particularly around our youth, around our truants, and youth coming from troubled families. We're also starting to see some impacts in family violence."

Porirua City Council voted yesterday to develop a local policy restricting where legal highs can be sold ahead of nationwide retail regulations being developed by the Ministry of Health.

The council will consult publicly on the policy and the process is likely to take up to four months.

Police are gathering intelligence on exactly how bad the problem is and have supported the council in its decision.

Basham said the problems had not necessarily become worse since new laws regulating the supply and sale of legal highs came into force last year, but there appeared to be more frequent use and addiction.

"We are probably just more aware of it now because we're starting to see the impacts of it more regularly."

Mana MP Kris Faafoi said he spent half an hour outside one of Porirua's three legal-high retailers and there was practically a line out of the door.

He urged the council to make use of provisions in the Psychoactive Substance Act for councils to put their own restrictions on retailers, though he admitted it was not an ideal solution.

Porirua Mayor Nick Leggett said he would like to see a ban on the products altogether, but a local policy would be a good step.

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- The Dominion Post

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