Regulate legal highs - MP

ELTON SMALLMAN
Last updated 05:00 27/02/2014

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Legal high dealers will be hit in the pocket if Labour MP Iain Lees-Galloway can get his private members bill drawn from the ballot and passed into law.

The Palmerston North MP launched his member's bill in Hamilton this week and said regulation was the preferred option to an outright ban.

"Synthetic psychoactive substances are here now and if we banned them that would just hand the profit over to the criminal world and I don't want to give the gangs any more money than they are getting now."

His bill would expand the powers of the Health Protection Agency, the organisation set up in 2012 through the merger of the Alcohol Advisory Council and the Health Sponsorship Council, and would receive a levy from the legal high industry.

"Retailers are making a lot of money off it, the industry is making a lot of money and it's time for them to pay their way."

The HPA would be given powers to make recommendations to government and community organisations on the sale and use of psychoactive substances but legislation was very specific and "narrow in focus".

"The legislation precludes it at the moment from doing any work in psychoactives," he said. "It gives the HPA the mandate to do the kind of work it does with alcohol, with psychoactive substances."

The member's bill noted a reduction of harm since the Psychoactive Substances Act passed into law last July but outrage in Hamilton had grown after licences were issued to retailers there.

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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