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Feedback sought on the sale of legal highs in the Waikato

9 January 2014

Feedback sought on the sale of legal highs in the Waikato district

Waikato District Council wants feedback from the public on a proposed Psychoactive Substances (Local Approved Products) Policy which aims to keep the sale of legal highs out of residential neighbourhoods and away from sensitive sites such as schools.

The policy comes as a result of Council wanting to control the location of these premises within the district, as provided for in the new Psychoactive Substances Act 2013.

Under the Act, Council has no role in the issuing or enforcing of licenses and can only put a policy in place to approve locations where the products can be sold. Council cannot ban the sale of the legal highs outright. 

Waikato District Council Acting Chief Executive Tony Whittaker said the Council’s preference would be for these products to be banned, however as the Act provides for them, Council must do its best by adopting a policy that helps protect the public.

A draft policy has been put together and proposes that premises selling legal highs be restricted to the central business areas of Ngaruawahia, Huntly, Raglan, Te Kauwhata and Tuakau and kept out of residential areas.

Mr Whittaker said these areas were identified as the safest place for legal highs to be sold as there is a more prominent Police presence, CCTV monitoring as well as a higher volume of vehicle and pedestrian traffic.

Other restrictions outlined in the draft policy include:

• ·         Legal high retailers are to operate at least 50 metres away from a sensitive site. These sites are listed in the proposed policy and have been identified for the following reasons: they are predominantly frequented by families and/or people under 18 years old, are frequented by vulnerable members of the community or Council has aspirations for the site to be a family-friendly zone.

• ·         Legal high retailers are to operate at least 100 metres away from another retailer of the same products.

Mr Whittaker said the reason for this is to reduce harm caused by the clustering of the activity.

“Clustering can lead to the development of a ‘red light’ zone, which can unintentionally change the character of that particular area in a negative way,” he said.

Mr Whittaker encouraged residents to have their say on the proposed policy.

“The sale of legal highs in our district is undesirable, however we believe we have put together a policy that protects our communities from this harmful activity the best we can, but we would like to hear from our residents. Their voice is very important when making these kind of decisions.”

Consultation on the proposed policy will take place from Tuesday 14 January to 17 February 2014.

A Statement of Proposal and a copy of the proposed policy can be viewed at all our offices and libraries, on our websitewww.waikatodistrict.govt.nz or by calling us on 0800 492 452, along with submission forms.

ENDS

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