Groups call on NCC to ban legal high sales

STACEY KNOTT
Last updated 13:00 24/01/2014

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Health and community workers are calling for an outright ban on sales of legal highs in Nelson.

The Nelson City Council has received 10 submissions from individuals and groups on a draft policy to limit the sale of legal highs.

The policy would impose specific regulations for their sale and would work in tandem with the Psychoactive Substances Act, passed last year, which established a new licensing system for psychoactive product manufacturers and retailers.

The Nelson City Council Draft Local Approved Products Policy proposes that premises licensed to sell approved legal highs must be located within the Nelson Inner City Zone, and not be within 100 metres of a kindergarten, early childhood centre, school, library, community centre, reserve, playground or place of worship.

It also proposes that new licensed premises should not be within 100 metres of an existing business holding a licence (interim or full).

A combined submission from the Nelson Community and Whanau Network, Community Workers and Training and Support and the Victory Community Centre said they saw the impact of "freely available" legal highs on their clients, and were extremely concerned that businesses that sold legal highs "do not appear to self-regulate who they sell to".

"Dealing with the impact of the substances is tying up health resources at Accident and Emergency and the Acute Mental Health Unit in a way that is unsustainable, and that is an unnecessary waste of the health dollar," the submission said.

"Our preference is to see legal highs banned from sale in Nelson city."

Likewise, the Nelson Youth Council said it did not want legal highs sold anywhere in Nelson, but agreed with the council's suggestions.

The Nelson branch of the National Council of Women said it would prefer a ban on legal high sales but did not see that this was possible at present.

The branch supported the council's suggestions, and said it did not want licences to be granted to premises in Stoke and Tahunanui.

Rosey Duncan, representing the Health Action Trust, said the trust agreed with the draft policy.

She also wrote that if there were legal high outlets in a community, "we imagine it is less likely that people would choose to buy online when instead they can go into the shop, see what is available and ask questions about the likely effects".

The trust was concerned that internet sales would not be monitored in regard to the age of the buyer or the ingredients in the pills, she wrote.

The trust recommended restricting sales outlets to a minimum distance of 50 metres from alcohol outlets, to lessen the likelihood of people leaving bars and purchasing legal highs while under the influence of alcohol.

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Be Adult Boutique Ltd made a submission through its lawyer, Kathy Carr. It said a director of the company held an interim retail licence to sell pyschoactive substances from the premises.

The company called for the council to extend the location limitation to the Western City Centre Expansion Area, as under the draft policy it would be limited to "the heart of the retail area". It also wanted the 100-metre separation to be reduced to 50m.

The submission said the boutique's proprietors restricted entry to over-18s, and were concerned that if they were not included in the zone, other businesses would not have the age restrictions they had enforced in their store.

- © Fairfax NZ News

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