Delight at closure of high shop
Te Awamutu's only legal high shop cannot sell for 21 days until the Ministry of Health decides its fate, and locals are delighted.
The M Centre in Sloane St is unpopular with locals but has had a recent boost in business from Hamilton buyers seeking new sources.
But its licence - the only one in Waipa District - was suspended on Friday through a letter from Dr Donald Hannah, manager of the ministry's psychoactive substances regulatory authority.
During the 21-day suspension, the authority would decide whether the shop's licence met the conditions of the Waipa District Council local approved products policy, Mahendra Baruchi, of the M Centre, was told.
"As a result of the licence being suspended you must immediately stop trading in psychoactive substances." Waipa District Mayor Jim Mylchreest said it was a win for the community and council - but it wasn't over.
"We've been left to clean up a mess. It's communities and families who suffer while drug retailers and manufacturers go laughing all the way to the bank. It's wrong - all wrong," he said.
"We've done all we can within the limits of the law and while the whole process has been frustrating, it's good to see the ministry has acted relatively quickly in this instance."
The increase in customers after the Hamilton closures had been a serious concern for the council and local police and "incredibly unfair" on retailers and locals, Mr Mylchreest said.
The suspension was also good news for Betta Electrical owner John Haworth, whose business is a couple of doors down from the M Centre.
"I'm hoping they close the place down," he said.
"It's just the type of people that have been coming in. They park in our carpark. I've seen young ladies who leave their children in the car while they go up to the shop."
Recently he came to work to find vomit and dirty nappies in the carpark.
The Waipa District Council brought in a policy on legal highs on March 25 and earlier this month urged the ministry to move faster on the M Centre's suspension.
It believed the retailer was breaching the policy and it was worried about Hamilton users flocking to Te Awamutu.
Baruchi was unable to be contacted before the Waikato Times went to print.