Council stands firm on policy for legal highs

Last updated 05:00 15/03/2014
legal highs
JONATHAN CAMERON
HIGH PRIORITY: The slow clamp down on legal highs continues.

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A legal high advocacy group is taking Hamilton City Council to court over its puff shop policy.

The Star Trust, an industry body representing the majority of retailers licensed under the psychoactive substances act, including most in Hamilton, announced it was seeking a judicial review of the council's psychoactive substance policy yesterday.

Star Trust general manager Grant Hall called the council's Local Approved Products Policy "old school prohibition".

"We have been forced to defend licensed retailers from a LAPP that has gone outside the mandate of the [Psychoactive Substances] Act and made it impossible to operate a licensed retail outlet in Hamilton."

But the legal review has been slated by West Ward councillor Angela O'Leary, who said the trust could "bring it on".

"I'm very confident it fits in with the act and delivered what then community wants."

Ms O'Leary said to her knowledge the council had not been served with legal papers, but the challenge would be only a review of the council's process.

Hamilton East worker Ren Hammington, who has been vocal in opposition to the Grey St puff shop, said the review was not unexpected.

"I don't think they have a hope."

Mr Hammington said he was confident the council process was fair and balanced.

Six legal high sellers had their licences suspended for 21 days by the Ministry of Health this week.

The suspensions follow the adoption of Hamilton City Council's psychoactive substances policy on February 27.

Under council rules, legal high sellers are restricted to the city centre and have to operate at least 100 metres away from sensitive sites, effectively shutting down existing retailers temporarily.

Mr Grant said law-abiding residents now had to go online or out of town to enjoy "a low risk social tonic".

He also claimed the council's policy would benefit organised crime.

"We hope to get this matter into the High Court as quick as possible so that common sense can prevail."

harry.pearl@waikatotimes.co.nz

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