Board member's dairy selling legal highs irks

01:52, May 27 2013
tdn fiona stand
Fiona Clark (pictured) has expressed her concern over Christine Armstrong-Smith, who is selling legal highs at her Video & Lotto shop.

The sale of synthetic cannabis by a Waitara Community Board member is causing a stir in the North Taranaki town.

Vocal resident Fiona Clark has expressed her concern over community board member Christine Armstrong-Smith, who is selling legal highs at the town's Keyman Video & Lotto shop which she owns with husband, Neil.

Ms Clark raised the issue at a community board meeting this month and felt Mrs Armstrong-Smith should resign from her position.

She was disappointed at the lack of action from the community board, which said it would raise the issue with NPDC officers to see whether there were any options open for them to act.

"They should be shamed," she said.

"Personally, I think they need to look at their ethics. They know this is harmful stuff, and they're representing the community, so I think they should really take a look at themselves."

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Council regulations outline the only power council has is in relation to bylaws, which can only be made in response to nuisance, health and safety issues, or offensive behaviour.

But Mrs Armstrong-Smith said she would not be bullied into a resignation and felt her position on the community board was irrelevant to Ms Clark's concerns.

"The people of Waitara will decide at the next election in October this year," she said.

Synthetics were a legal substitute for cannabis, and she looked forward to them being regulated, she said.

"The only people that have been badly affected have been found to have over-indulged or have mixed the product with alcohol or drugs," she said.

New Plymouth Mayor Harry Duynhoven said although the products were legal, he would certainly not be selling them in his shop - if he owned one.

"In saying that it's like cigarettes or alcohol. Some people are violently against both of them, but they're legal.

"We have sets of rules we have to follow in the community, and unfortunately at the moment, this isn't against the law."

Mr Duynhoven did question whether the same reaction would be given if a councillor was running a pub, or selling cigarettes.

"There's not much we can do until Parliament gets their act together on it.

"I'm not happy about the stuff being sold full stop, but it is legal."

Last week, central Taranaki dairy owner Peter Chen announced he had stopped selling legal highs in his Eltham and Stratford dairies.

Taranaki Daily News