Councils close to controlling legal high sales

NEIL RATLEY
Last updated 05:00 31/01/2014

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Prospective legal high retailers in Southland will get told where they can set up shop.

The Invercargill City Council, Southland District Council and Gore District Council are creating a policy for the sale of legal highs in the region and one of the powers will be to decide where any such new shops can open.

Invercargill City Council environmental health manager John Youngson said all three councils were working with police and Public Health South to develop a local authority product plan (LAPP).

Last year, Associate Health Minister Todd McClay outlined the powers local government authorities had under the Psychoactive Substances Act 2013 and called on them to put in place local rules to control further the sale of legal highs.

Mr Youngson said the three Southland councils were getting close to releasing their draft LAPP in anticipation of other retailers applying for a licence after the Psychoactive Substances Regulations were eventually implemented.

The community and members of the council wanted a policy in place to try to ensure there was some control of the sale of psychoactive substances, he said.

"It won't give us great powers but it will let us determine where any new retailers can set up. We don't want these products sold next to schools or other inappropriate locations," he said.

"It will be a set of tools to help authorities control the sale and supply of psychoactive substances."

Southland area manager prevention Inspector Olaf Jensen said despite being legal, there was evidence psychoactive substances were still doing harm and still creating work for police.

"Yesterday at 6am police were called to a residence because of a disturbance. The two people involved were high on synthetic cannabis and had been using the product all night," he said.

Anything to reduce harm in the community was welcomed by police, he said.

Public Health South service manager Stephen Jenkins said the organisation provided information to the council for the LAPP.

"There has been anecdotal evidence the use of psychoactive substances, especially in developing brains, can be harmful and also have a social impact in communities," he said.

But this was the same with alcohol, cigarettes and other drugs, he said.

The joint council LAPP would hopefully reduce the risk of legal highs falling into the hands of young people and make Southland communities safer, he said. 

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