Man charged over legal-high sale in square

MATT BOWEN AND BELINDA FEEK
Last updated 05:00 03/04/2014

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A man has been charged after allegedly selling legal highs in Hamilton's main square as a city-wide ban continues on the sale of the product by retailers.

Michael John Mason, 36, a beneficiary, did not enter a plea when he appeared in Hamilton District Court yesterday, on three charges including possession of the prescription drug Ritalin; selling an approved product without a licence and selling an approved substance from a public place, Victoria St, that was not a permanent structure as specified under the Psychoactive Substances Regulations 2013.

Mason was granted bail but banned from entering a section of the Hamilton CBD between Knox, Anglesea, Liverpool and Victoria streets, including Garden Place. He's also under a curfew between 7pm and 7am.

He was arrested after being caught on the city's security cameras allegedly selling the product on Tuesday night.

City safe camera operators observed a man interacting with several people throughout Tuesday evening who appeared to give him money while he passed them small items in return, Sergeant Dave Raffan said.

He was apprehended in Garden Place about 10.20pm and allegedly found in possession of 45 two-gram bags of an approved brand of synthetic cannabis.

Selling the substance from unlicensed premises is a breach of the Psychoactive Substances Act.

Raffan said the packets of synthetic cannabis had been bought from a dealer in Te Awamutu.

He said police would continue to monitor how psychoactive substances were being sold in the Waikato and offenders should expect to be noticed if they flouted the regulations.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Health has extended its ban on Hamilton legal-high retailers selling psychoactive substances - for now.

The Ministry of Health's Psychoactive Substances Regulatory Authority said Hamilton City Council's recently introduced bylaw to control the sale of psychoactive substances, had the power to suspend six retailers from trading in psychoactive substances.

The authority said it therefore did not need to actually extend the 21-day suspension imposed on six Hamilton retailers on March 11 and which was set to expire on April 1.

Instead it reconfirmed those retailers were still not permitted to trade in psychoactive substances, and enforcement officers would make regular checks on them. It said this suspension would remain in place until two appeals, before the ministry about the selling of psychoactive substances in Hamilton, were heard.

That was unless the first appeal, laid against the decision to suspend licences in the first place, granted temporary relief on the suspensions while the other, main appeal, was being heard.

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The main appeal involves a judicial review of proceedings which have been filed seeking a review of Hamilton City Council's LAPP (locally approved product policy).

Hamilton City Council spokeswoman Stephanie Slattery said that review was likely to be heard in mid-May or June.

Anti-legal high activist Aaron Woolley, of Stand Up Against Legal Highs Hamilton, was pleased to hear the suspensions were to continue.

"It's great because there has been a lot of concern about what's happening once this 21-day thing was up. We've been lobbying really hard and discussing it with councillors and MPs."

Hamilton West MP Tim Macindoe said the suspension extension was a big win for the city. He was hopeful the council would be successful with its court proceedings.

- Waikato Times

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