Legal highs policy prepared

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Exactly where psychoactive substances can be sold is to be decided by the Waitaki District Council at its meeting tomorrow.

The council has developed a Local Approved Products Policy (LAPP) for the Waitaki district, which is a set of criteria and decisions made by council in consultation with the community which can restrict the location a premises can sell psychoactive substances, also known as legal highs.

The policy is designed to address concerns in the community about where legal highs can be sold, while meeting the statutory requirements of the Psychoactive Substances Act 2013.

The Act established the regulatory framework for the manufacture and sale of legal highs, with the aim of protecting the health of individuals, minimising harm and regulating the availability of legal highs.

Through the Act, Parliament has taken a regulatory stance as opposed to a prohibitive one to manage legal highs.

The Act created an interim licence regime to allow the sale of legal highs until regulations could be made under the Act.

In Oamaru, a licence was granted to Ruilin Tu, which traded as Super Save on Thames St.

However, the store has since closed and is in the process of being refitted.

At its meeting tomorrow, the council is set to approve where legal highs can be sold, approve its LAPP plan to go out for public consultation and approve its draft consultation plan.

It will consider three options, with the recommended option being to not allow a premises that sells legal highs to be within 50m of a sensitive site, within 100m of residential areas and only within Oamaru’s central business district.

The council’s LAPP describes a sensitive site as any educational or child care facility, place of worship, pharmacy, medical centre, public park, reserve, playground or social welfare agency, such as Work and Income.

Other areas include the Oamaru District Court, Alps 2 Ocean Cycleway, any registered war memorial, public toilets and key bus stops which have 20 or more passengers using the stop to board a bus daily.

Approved legal highs will be able to be sold only in the Thames St block between Dee St and Itchen St.

A small restricted area had also been put in place in Palmerston. However, that has now been ruled out because of its proximity to sensitive sites.

Oamaru’s Derek Beveridge, who has been involved with the Waitaki Safer Community Legal High Working Group, said if there was money to be made it was likely legal highs would be back in Oamaru.

“I think provided the substances come back on the market, it’s quite likely someone will take a punt and try to make some money out of it. But, with the restrictions, there will be a lot more control than there was before.”

Public consultation on the LAPP plan opens on February 20 and closes on March 20.

Public hearings are scheduled to take place on April 1, while council deliberations are set for April 15.

The council is expected to adopt the plan on April 29.

By Daniel Birchfield