Council’s hands tied in Psychoactive substances debate
Auckland Council’s hands tied in Psychoactive substances debate
Auckland Deputy Mayor Penny Hulse says the council shares the community’s concerns about the social impacts from psychoactive substances and will continue to work with social agencies to minimise those impacts.
A cross-council working party of elected members and staff met this week to discuss the issue and have agreed that a proactive approach was the best way forward.
“The reality is we cannot ban the sale or manufacture of these substances – and we have been left with very few regulatory options,” she says.
“But I want to assure the community that we hear you and we will do what we can, including working with agencies like the police and the Ministry of Health.”
Cr Hulse says it is also important the community is empowered to take action and that, whatever the solution, it needs to be done in a cohesive and meaningful way so that it does not end up causing another set of issues elsewhere.
One of the first steps being undertaken is speeding up the development of the council’s Local Approved Products Policy (LAPP) by several months, with a draft policy expected to be ready for public feedback in late July and the final policy adopted by November this year.
The Government’s Psychoactive Substances Act allows councils to develop a LAPP to determine where retail outlets selling these substances can be located.
Once adopted, the Psychoactive Substances Regulatory Authority within the Ministry of Health will need to consider Auckland Council’s policy when assessing future licenses.
Over the next few months those developing the LAPP will be engaging with a wide range of stakeholders including local boards, treatment providers, health agencies and the police.
On 26 May 2014 the Auckland Council and Auckland Transport public safety and nuisance bylaws become operative.
These bylaws will make it illegal to use or sell mind altering substances, including legal highs, in a public place – even if they have been purchased from a licensed premise.
“We already enforce this is some parts of Auckland which had similar bylaws so the introduction of a regionwide bylaw is an important step forward,” says Cr Hulse.
In the meantime Auckland Council will continue working with police to manage issues like the behaviour associated with this activity and enforcing the bylaw.
It has also made a submission to the Ministry of Health proposed regulations and will look to develop information for the community outlining the correct agencies to go to for help and further information.