Fight to ban legal highs, councillors told

AARON LEAMAN
Last updated 15:52 18/02/2014

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Hamilton city councillors have been urged to be "bold and brave" and lobby the Government to ban the sale of synthetic highs.

Hamilton City Council today began a public hearing into their draft psychoactive substances policy, with a packed public gallery taking turns to submit their views to council.

Many submitters detailed the apparent harmful effect the sale of synthetic highs were having on the city and, in particular, the central business district and Hamilton East.

Garry Phillips, who owns a hair dressing salon on Victoria St, said customers were regularly intimidated and abused by people frequenting a nearby puff shop.

Mr Phillips said his customers no longer felt safe using or stopping at a bus stop outside the puff shop and would walk up to a block to avoid the area.

Some submitters requested the Waikato Times not photograph them at the hearing fearing reprisals from synthetic high users.

The council's draft policy proposes two locations in the city where retailers could sell legal highs: the central city and Te Rapa.

Under the new psychoactive substances act, the council cannot ban the sale of legal highs outright.

But speaking on behalf of Anglican Action, Karen Morrison-Hume urged city leaders to be "bold and brave" and stand up to the Health Minister.

Mrs Morrison-Hume said the sale of synthetic highs was "morally unacceptable" and the council should tell the Government they did not want the products sold in the city.

She said synthetic drugs were manufactured to avoid anti-drug laws but were potentially 10 times more potent than cannabis.

"It [synthetic highs] hits hard and is designed to capture and create the level of addiction that can sustain a business," Mrs Morrison-Hume said.

Council strategy and policy committee chair Angela O'Leary said the council had to act lawfully and could not ban the sale of synthetic highs outright.

The hearing continues on Thursday.

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- Waikato

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