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Rotorua gets tough on psychoactive substance sales

News Release 

Tuesday 18 February 2014

Rotorua gets tough on psychoactive substance sales

“There’s no place for the sale of psychoactive substances in Rotorua.” That is the message Rotorua District Council (RDC) wants to make clear through a new policy which would severely restrict the sale of the products to the full extent of powers available under current legislation.

At this morning’s meeting of the council’s Strategy, Policy & Finance Committee councillors discussed a draft Local Approved Products Policy that would limit opportunities for retailers of psychoactive substances to operate in Rotorua.

While legislation does not allow for a total ban on the sale of the substances, it does give councils the right to set restrictions on where they can and cannot be legally sold, including consideration of proximity to sensitive locations such as schools, community facilities and churches.

Councils can also determine the maximum number of retailers permitted to operate and set a distance between such premises.

At this morning’s meeting a draft 2014 Local Approved Products Policy (LAPP) for psychoactive substances was approved and will now be the subject of a public consultation programme starting in March so community views can be heard.

Strategy, Policy & Finance Committee chair Merepeka Raukawa-Tait said the clear message that sellers of harmful psychoactive substances should take from today’s decision is that they are not wanted in Rotorua.

“Current holders of temporary licences should also think very seriously about closing up shop or moving out of town. We don’t want you here and we’re not going to make it easy for you to operate.

“Our draft policy does everything we can do under existing legislation and it sends a strong message that we don’t need these insidious products being sold in our district.

“It shows we care about our citizens’ health and safety and that we are concerned about the costs that our community incurs as a result of these substances being used.

“Today’s decision supports our Rotorua 2030 goals, specifically around providing safe neighbourhoods and an inviting inner city area.

“However, our view is that the legislation does not go far enough and we should be able to implement an outright ban of the sale of psychoactive substances in our district. It’s clear there’s a mounting body of support from Rotorua residents for exactly that to happen so we will be advocating strongly to the government for more powers than those currently available to us,” said Mrs Raukawa-Tait.

Under proposals in the new draft LAPP, retail outlets would be restricted to the inner city only. However the four existing outlets with interim licences in the CBD would not be able to continue operating from their current premises and would be left with very few options to relocate to.

The council’s LAPP proposals would initially allow a maximum of just three premises to be licensed, but a ‘sinking lid’ policy would mean those numbers would be reduced over time as no new licences would be approved in the future.

The council will also recommend to the government that the hours of sale for psychoactive products be restricted to 9am to 2.30pm Mondays to Fridays to limit exposure to vulnerable groups such as school children.

ENDS

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