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Hamilton shows Psychoactive Substances Act has teeth

strong>Hon Peter Dunne
Associate Minister of Health
11 March 2014

Media Statement
Hamilton City Council Policy shows Psychoactive Substances Act has teeth.

Associate Health Minister Peter Dunne has welcomed the Psychoactive Substances Regulatory Authority’s (PSRA) decision to suspend the interim retail licences for 6 psychoactive substance product retailers in the Hamilton area.

Following a meeting on Wednesday evening with Hamilton MPs Tim Macindoe and David Bennett, who strongly reiterated the need for prompt action in responding to the Hamilton City Council locally approved product policy (LAPP), the PSRA again contacted the Hamilton City Council seeking clarification on retail outlets contravening the new Council plan.

“The PSRA had written to the Council Chief Executive on Friday, 28 February, seeking this additional information, but this was not forthcoming until Tim Macindoe and David Bennett intervened and impressed on the Council the need to provide the authority with the previously requested information,” says Mr Dunne.

On receipt of this material the PSRA has been able to act swiftly and has today suspended these outlets’ licences, prohibiting further sales of these products.

“Since the Psychoactive Substances Act came into effect in July 2013, all local authorities have had the power to draft LAPPs which regulate where in their districts psychoactive products may be sold. Hamilton City Council is one of the first Councils to implement its policy, I expect the PSRA to act promptly to suspend the licence of any retailer operating in areas no longer permitted by its policy” says Mr Dunne.

“To say I have been disappointed by the response of the vast majority of local authorities to the Act is an understatement. Instead of getting on with developing and implementing LAPPs, the vast majority of local authorities opted instead to engage in media debate over the merits of the Psychoactive Substances Act, passed 119 - 1 by Parliament less than 8 months ago”.

“While I understand that there are some frustrations with the ongoing presence of these products in communities, the reality is they are here to stay and we need to ensure they are as regulated and low risk as possible.”

“Last week I met with both the president and chief executive of LGNZ, along with the mayors of Greymouth and Palmerston North and had a positive discussion about working more closely with local government on this issue. I have also instructed the Ministry of Health to continue to engage closely with LGNZ on the development of regulations to the Act to ensure that where possible, any concerns are addressed through this process,” says Mr Dunne.

Since the Act was passed, the number of retailers has dropped from an estimated 3-4000 to around 156, and the number of products from an estimated 2-300 to 41. No new retail outlets are permitted until the interim period ends, expected to be mid-2015.

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