More restrictions on legal highs likely

More restrictions on where legal highs can be sold could be in place in Christchurch by the middle of next year.

City councillors will on Thursday be asked to give council staff approval to investigate the development of a Local Approved Products Policy (LAPP).

Allowed under the new Psychoactive Substances Act, a LAPP would allow the council to control the density and location of retail outlets licensed to sell party pills and synthetic cannabinoids, particularly how close they are to kindergartens and childcare centres, schools, churches, community and health facilities.

The community will need to be consulted first, but it is possible such controls could be in place by April if the council agrees to fast-track the LAPP's development.

In a report prepared tomorrow's meeting, council policy team leader Claire Bryant said the plan was to consult key stakeholders, including police and health providers, over the next two months before providing a detailed report to the council in early February.

She said a LAPP that restricted both the density and location of retail premises selling psychoactive substances could help minimise the harm caused by legal highs.

''Substance use research indicates that density of outlets increases familiarity and tends to normalise the produce while ease of access where individuals are carrying out day-to-day living activities also tends to increase use,'' Bryant said. 

Other councils have already begun work on their LAPPs.

The Hamilton City Council is proposing some of the most restrictive rules possible under the new legislation. Its draft policy would limit the industry to as few as five outlets, all restricted to operating inside the central business district.

It is also recommending retailers be allowed to trade for no more than 27 hours a week, between 9am and 2.30pm.

The Hastings District Council is proposing to restrict sales to the central commercial zone of Hastings City and not within 100 metres of a kindergarten or childcare centre, school or place of worship.

The Psychoactive Substances Act that was passed in July established a  licensing system for psychoactive products and the manufacture and retailing of such products.

It prohibited the sale of approved psychoactive substances from certain types of premises, including dairies, convenience stores, grocery stores, supermarkets, service stations, premises where alcohol is sold or supplied, temporary structures such as tents and marquees, and vehicles.

Established businesses that were already trading in psychoactive products have been able to apply for interim licences so they can continue trading until all the new regulations come into force, which is likely be in late March. 

In Christchurch, five interim licences have been granted - two in Hornby, one in New Brighton, one of Lincoln Rd, and one in the central city.

A further four applications - one in the Re:Start Mall, one in the Palms shopping centre, and two in Linwood - are being considered by the Ministry of Health.

The Press