Store owner – ‘I’m not selling legal highs’

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The owner of Puff n Stuff Chelmer Street Discounters has taken a stand against the sale of legal highs, and hasn’t sold any of the products for almost six months now.

Puff n Stuff Chelmer Street Discounters owner Pamela Kennedy said a report in local media that her store had applied for an interim licence to sell psychoactive substances was false.

The Puff n Stuff Discounter Ltd which had been publicised to have applied for a license to sell psychoactive substances is actually based in Tauranga.

“We’re definitely not applying,” she said.

As a tobacconist, they are eligible to apply for a license, and despite being a “big money maker”, Mrs Kennedy said she had chosen not to stock legal highs.

“We did sell them to start off with because we are a tobacconist,” she said.

“We haven’t sold them since March.”

A customer made Mr and Mrs Kennedy aware of the false allegation last week.

“[The customer] said ‘I’m not allowed to shop here any more’… I said ‘why not?’… They said because you sell legal highs,” she said.

“There’s people around town saying we’re selling it and a lot of our older customers are saying they aren’t coming back now.”

However, since ceasing the sale of legal high products, business was down, she said.

Mrs Kennedy said their stance against legal highs would continue for now, and it was “up to Oamaru” to see it come off all shelves in town.

While many people assumed young people made up the majority of users in Oamaru, when Puff n Stuff Chelmer Street Discounters sold legal highs, Mrs Kennedy estimated that the average age of buyers was over 40 years old.

Three years ago, Oamaru police Constable Bruce Dow visited all of the shops which sold legal high products in town in an attempt to rid Oamaru of them.

“I was not able to, but that stance of mine still remains,” Constable Dow said.

While it had been argued that making Oamaru synthetic cannabis-free would only make users travel to Timaru or Dunedin to buy the products, Constable Dow said it would definitely reduce the number of users.

“It’ll mean you just cant walk into a shop and buy some. It’s making it more difficult to buy it and that’s what we want to achieve.”

“It’ll put a few off.”

The Ministry of Health has granted an interim licence for Ruilin Tu, trading as Super Save, to sell psychoactive substances at 41 Thames St in Oamaru.

A sign, which reads: ‘SUPER SAVE sells legal highs. It’s destroying our community’ has been placed outside the store on two occasions now.

Waitaki Safer Community Legal High Working Group’s Derek Beveridge, who assisted with the sign, said their aim was to publicise the fact the damaging substances were being sold in the community.

By Rebecca Ryan