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Council to consult on where legal highs can be sold

Council to consult on where legal highs can be sold

The community will get the chance to have a say on where retailers can sell party pills and herbal highs, with the Christchurch City Council’s adoption of a draft Psychoactive Products Retail Locations policy.

The draft policy proposes to address location and density of licensed premises selling psychoactive substances, and that approved retail premises:

· Are permitted only within the Central City (Central City Core and Central City Mixed Use Zones, as defined by the Christchurch City District Plan).
· Are not permitted within 50 metres of each other.
· Are not permitted within 100 metres of a ‘sensitive site’ – such as playgrounds, early childhood centres, schools, tertiary institutions and specialist drug and alcohol treatment and support services – at the time the application for a full licence is made.

The Council will undertake a Special Consultative Procedure, seeking feedback on the draft policy from retailers, users, health providers and more, from Tuesday 3 June – Monday 7 July 2014. Consultation documents will be available to view during this period at Council Service Centres, Christchurch City Libraries and on the Council's website.

“The Psychoactive Substances Act 2013 doesn’t allow councils to place a ban, cap or sinking lid on retailers of approved products,” says Jamie Gough, Strategy and Planning Committee Chair.

“What we can do is put a local policy in place to address the locations of these retailers. Our draft policy is about minimising harm to users of psychoactive substances, as well as minimising the exposure of vulnerable people to these products.”

It is expected that the policy will be formally adopted by October 2014. The draft policy includes a clause that exempts interim licence retailers from complying with the policy until the Ministry of Health's Regulations come into effect. This is expected to happen by mid-2015, at which point retailers can apply for a full licence. All eight approved retailers currently in Christchurch have interim licences, and the exemption clause is designed to give them time to prepare for the change.

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