Legal-high policy 'not enough'

LOUISE BERWICK
Last updated 05:00 17/02/2014

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Southland's legal-high retailers are set to be kicked out of the suburbs and forced to sell the controversial products from the region's town centres.

The draft psychoactive substances combined policy has been released by the region's three councils this week.

The policy sets out where legal highs will be able to be sold throughout the region.

Once adopted, retailers will be unable to sell the highs outside of the central business districts of Invercargill, Winton, Gore and Te Anau.

In the policy, psychoactive substances will only be able to be sold between Leven, Gala, Deveron and Forth streets in Invercargill, and in the vicinity of Great North Rd in Winton.

In Gore and Te Anau they will only be able to be sold in the central shopping areas.

The policy also stipulates that legal-high retailers will not be able to set up within 100 metres of another store selling the products and cannot be within 50m of kindergartens, schools, places of worship and community facilities.

However, some Southland leaders say the policy does not go far enough.

But Invercargill Deputy Mayor Darren Ludlow, also the regulatory services committee chairman, said it was a step in the right direction.

The policy would be discussed at the city council's regulatory services committee meeting tomorrow before being referred to the full council meeting.

Once all three Southland councils adopt the draft policy, a committee, including two representatives from all three councils, would hear public submissions.

When the final policy is adopted, it will come into effect straight away, Mr Ludlow said.

That would mean businesses such as Impuls'd, in Elles Rd in south Invercargill, would be forced to move into the CBD or stop selling psychoactive substances.

"People don't want them in residential areas."

Cr Ludlow said the rationale for creating a boundary for retailers to sell within was so it was easier to police. "We don't want them legal at all. [But] it's here and we have to deal with it as best we can."

The owner of Invercargill store Pillz & Thrillz, Ann Kincaid, said her shop would remain unaffected because it was already in the CBD.

Ms Kincaid said it would have a major effect on Warren Skill, the owner of Impuls'd, but she believed there was enough demand for the substances for the two businesses to operate in Invercargill.

"I am sure Invercargill is big enough for two of us, no matter where we are based."

Mr Skill was unable to be reached for comment.

Southland District Mayor Gary Tong said he did not want any shops in the region selling the products and he believed the councillors around his table would want the policy to go further.

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Gore District Mayor Tracy Hicks said he had not heard of a single community that wanted retailers selling legal highs in their neighbourhood.

Submissions on the draft policy will close on Monday, April 14.

- The Southland Times

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