High time licence arrived - retailer

An Invercargill businessman is among applicants still waiting to be issued a licence to sell legal highs nearly six months after he had to lodge his application.

Impuls'd owner Warren Skill applied for an interim licence to sell legal highs under the Government's Psychoactive Substances Act introduced in July, with applications having to be lodged by mid-August.

The head of an advocacy group for the legal-high industry said the delay was incredibly frustrating and was creating a lot of uncertainty for retailers.

The Star Trust's general manager, Grant Hall, said the Government had promised regulations and licences would be in place before the end of the year.

But manufacturers and retailers of psychoactive substances were still waiting for a clear set of guidelines, he said.

Mr Skill had been granted an interim licence to import, manufacture, wholesale, and research psychoactive substances in the meantime and was still allowed to sell legal highs until a decision was made on his application.

Mr Hall said he had visited Impuls'd and it had high ethical standards and would comply fully with the Psychoactive Substances Act.

"I know it's frustrating for someone like Warren who is still waiting," he said.

Of the 162 applications to sell legal highs listed on the ministry's website, Mr Skill is one of five applicants still "under consideration".

Psychoactive Substances Regulatory Authority manager Donald Hannah said the authority needed to be satisfied all relevant documentation and information was available before a licence determination could be made.

"The authority is not yet in a position to make a decision on this [Mr Skill's] licence," Dr Hannah said.

Impuls'd and Pillz & Thrillz, which has been granted an interim licence to sell legal highs, were the only Invercargill shops on the ministry's list of approved or waiting to be approved legal-high retailers.

Rugby Park Food Centre and Crinan St dairy owner Murray Baird, who was fined for selling legal highs without a licence in December, had applied for a licence to sell legal highs from an address adjacent to his Crinan St dairy.

But Mr Baird said at his court appearance the Ministry of Health had not been satisfied with the location and he had since abandoned the application to continue his licence.

Before the law change, at least six shops, including dairies were known to be selling the products.

The ministry said since the Psychoactive Substances Act came into force the number of retail outlets selling psychoactive products had reduced from an estimated 3000 to 4000 unregulated sellers to fewer than 170 licensed premises nationwide.

Dr Hannah said once regulations were passed, a permanent licensing regime would be introduced.

Work was continuing on the development of the regulations and on policies for approved legal-high products.

Applications from anyone else looking to sell legal highs would reopen following implementation of the Psychoactive Substances Regulations.


The Southland Times