Stratford acts to curb legal highs

DEENA COSTER
Last updated 05:00 26/02/2014

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Legal highs will no longer be able to be sold in Stratford if a policy designed to tackle the sale of the substances is formally adopted.

The local approved products policy is the result of the Stratford and New Plymouth district councils working together to develop a district response to the sale of approved psychoactive substances in their communities.

The innovative policy, believed to be one of the first in the country to be developed, was unanimously adopted by Stratford district councillors at their meeting yesterday.

Under the Psychoactive Substances Act 2013, two or more territorial authorities can adopt a single policy for their district.

The policy, adopted at yesterday's Stratford District Council meeting, proposes that the sale of approved psychoactive substances is restricted to the central business district of New Plymouth.

The size of New Plymouth's CBD, along with its policing presence and CCTV cameras were factors in the decision to suggest this as the best location for approved sales to take place.

Stratford councillors and the district's mayor were full of praise for the policy.

Mayor Neil Volzke said he fully supported the move.

"I'm pleased to say we are one of the leading ones, we're first off the blocks on this," he said of the policy.

Mr Volzke said he was pleased with how both councils had worked together on the matter and suggested their South Taranaki counterparts might also benefit from the move.

"I encourage South Taranaki to pick up the option and join us," he said.

Stratford District councillor Jono Erwood, who is also a police officer, was another to voice his opinion on the policy.

"It sounds fantastic," he said.

The policy, which will now go out for public consultation, also includes two other provisos around the sale of approved psychoactive products.

The first is that no one with a licence to sell psychoactive substances can be within 100 metres of another outlet that wants to sell them or within 50m of any educational, community or or recreational facility used by young people under 18 years old.

Currently New Plymouth has five retailers that hold interim licences to sell approved psychoactive products.

Four of these are located within the CBD area.

Stratford's sole trader of legal highs stopped doing so after the legislation was passed last year.

Public consultation on the policy begins on March 12 with a April 9 deadline for submissions.

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