Legal high retailer wants to stay put

21:51, Mar 03 2014

Poll: A legal high retailer in south Invercargill, who will be forced to move his business if a proposed council policy goes ahead, wants to stay put.

Warren Skill, the owner of Impuls'd, in South City Mall in Elles Rd, will be banned from selling legal highs from his shop if a draft psychoactive substances policy gets the green light.

However, Mr Skill said he did not believe the south Invercargill business community wanted him out.

Impuls'd was a well run business which had complied with all regulations imposed on it by authorities, Mr Skill said.

The business was in a good area and met the needs of people from south Invercargill, he said.

Impuls'd had also contributed to the South Alive projects, he said.

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The draft policy has been released by the region's three city and district councils and sets out where legal highs will be able to be sold throughout the region.

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

Impuls'd will be in the restricted zone under the Local Approved Products Policy (LAPP).

South Alive chairman Colin Anderson confirmed Mr Skill had donated two benches for the atrium in South City Mall.

"Warren, like 99 per cent of the south Invercargill businesses, is supporting the rejuvenation projects," Mr Anderson said.

However, the South Alive community action group was not a lobby group and would not go into bat to keep Mr Skill's legal high business in south Invercargill, he said.

Glasines Cafe owner Matthew Smellie said while he did not personally agree with the sale of legal highs, he supported Mr Skills' right to operate a commercial business in a commercial area.

"I think before the council takes any action, they should sit down and meet with Warren. He is operating a legal business," he said.

Grant Hall, general manager of the Star Trust which represents the interests of the legal high retailers, has called for the southern councils to consider an exemption for Mr Skill and other legal high retailers who have been operating responsibly.

The restrictions imposed by the LAPPs should only apply to new businesses after applications for licences to sell legal highs open when the Psychoactive Substances Act is passed, he said.

Councils would not have any enforcement powers until the full Psychoactive Substances Regulations are finalised which could be sometime next year, Mr Hall said.

But Invercargill Deputy Mayor Darren Ludlow, also the regulatory services committee chairman, said an exemption for Impuls'd or any other retailers looking to sell legal highs once the LAPP if adopted was "highly unlikely".

"Local Government New Zealand and the Invercargill City Council are dead set against having any legal highs sold in our communities," he said.

However there will be a submission process and if a sufficient case could be made to a joint committee set to hear submissions, changes to the draft policy may be possible, Cr Ludlow said.

The Southland Times