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Council Supports Swift Response to Legal Highs

Council Supports Swift Response to Legal Highs

11 MARCH 2014

For Immediate Release


Hamilton City Council’s Psychoactive Substances Policy, which was adopted by Council on 27 February 2014, will be enforced by the Ministry of Health.

Mayor Julie Hardaker says she is pleased the Government has responded to the needs and concerns of our community and congratulated the Ministry of Health for taking immediate action.

The Council’s policy identified the Central City as the preferred location from which legal highs could be sold with a number of sensitive sites identified.

The Ministry of Health, based on council’s policy, will suspend those temporary licences issued for 21 days.

Hamilton Mayor Julie Hardaker says “Hamilton is a city for families and it’s not OK to have people smoking a drug on the street in full view of children.”

“As a council, we have been virtually powerless to deal with the damage legal highs have caused our community and we are all grateful that the Ministry will now take action” added Mayor Hardaker.

Ms Hardaker said Cr Angela O’Leary, the Chair of the Strategy and Policy Committee had led the Council through the policy process and the news today that the policy will be enforced was a reflection of her hard work on this issue.

Hamilton’s electorate MPs Tim Macindoe and David Bennett both welcomed the news that the Ministry of Health is giving effect to the council’s policy.

“We understand the frustrations people have been experiencing around the damage legal highs have caused our local community, and we have been advocating strongly in Wellington and locally for the Ministry of Health to take immediate action to implement Hamilton City Council’s Psychoactive Substances Policy.


BACKGROUND

Key facts
• Hamilton City Council’s Psychoactive Substances Policy identifies the central city for where legal high retailers can be located.
• There are currently eight interim licence holders in our city, five of which are located within the Central City. Under Council’s policy and under the conditions of each interim licence, all of these licences are non-compliant. The Ministry of Health is now giving effect to our policy.
• Taking into consideration the sensitive site buffer zones (retailers need to be at least 100m from a sensitive site), the policy only leaves areas on the outskirts of the Central City for legal high retailers to be located.
• Our understanding is no full licences will be issued by the Ministry of Health until regulations are finalised which we understand will be no later than mid-2015.
• Sensitive sites include:
o any library, museum, community hall or recreational facility,
o any place of worship, school, kindergarten, childcare centre or educational institution,
o any premise occupied by a social welfare agency such as Work and Income or similar agency,
o Civic Square, Garden Place, the Hamilton High/District Court, Embassy Park and the Transport Centre,
o the Waikato river, the river walkway, pharmacies medical centres, key bus stops and stand-alone public toilets.
• Other actions the Council resolved to do included:
o submit on the Psychoactive Substances Regulations in support of enabling area prohibition of Psychoactive Substance sales;
o establish a working group to consider alternative options available to supplement Council's Psychoactive Substances Policy including the issue of the management of anti-social behaviour in public places and taking into account the Central City Transformation Plan. This will include consideration of both a bylaw and changes to the District Plan.


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