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Council can’t ban legal highs

Council can’t ban legal highs

Under current law Gisborne District Council cannot ban the sale of legal highs (psychoactive substances) in our district. Council can restrict where these substances are sold.

Council is asking for feedback on its draft Psychoactive Substances Policy. The draft policy proposes two alternatives – permitting sales on Gladstone Road or permitting sales in the Industrial Subdivision. Council is keen for feedback on where people think licensed retail outlets should be located.

In the draft Psychoactive Substances Policy, restricting sales to the Industrial Subdivision is the preferred option. This would see retail outlets only located in parts of Lytton Road, Parkinson Street, Tupaea Street and Innes Street. Hours would be limited to between 9am and 5pm Monday to Friday.

The Industrial Subdivision has been proposed because it will remove some of the antisocial behaviour from the city such as begging and using the legal highs in public. There is less public space in the area so people are less likely to use the substances in public. Any retailer who set up an outlet in the Industrial Subdivision would have to apply for resource consent as retailing is not a permitted activity in Council’s district plan. However, the location may drive legal high users to other public spaces such as the Adventure Playground

Gladstone Road has been chosen as the other option because it is highly visible and any antisocial activities arising from using legal highs can be monitored by police and passersby. Activity would be monitored by Gisborne Camera Trust cameras. It would also move users away from the riverbank cycle and walkway – a place where people using legal highs tend to gather.

Retail outlets would be located on Gladstone Road between the Reads Quay and Roebuck Road intersections and not elsewhere in the district. Hours would be restricted to 9am to 5 pm Monday-Friday and 10am to 3pm Saturday.

We understand that much of the community and many Councillors want psychoactive substances banned completely, says community planning and development group manager Nedine Thatcher-Swann.

“Under the Psychoactive Substances Bill, the selling of legal highs by a licensed retailer is legal. Council cannot ban their sale. However, we are doing everything in our power to get the law changed.”

“Mayor Meng Foon is going to Wellington to lobby for a law change along with 22 other Mayors. Council has made a strong submission on psychoactive substances regulations to the regulatory authority. The submission requests that Council have the power to ban the sale of psychoactive substances. If this is not agreed to, then Council submits that more support must be made available to those that are addicted to the substance. Retailers should have to record the buyer’s details in the same way sales of “pharmacist only” products are recorded.
Council will also amend the Public Places Bylaw to prohibit the use of psychoactive substances in public places.”

“At the moment councils cannot licence retailers who sell psychoactive substances and councils can’t put any conditions on their sale. Councils cannot enforce the policy or act – this falls within the authority of the Psychoactive Substances Regulatory Authority and the Police.”

The draft Psychoactive Substances Policy and submission form is on Council’s website or pick up a copy at the HB Williams Memorial Library, Customer Service in Fitzherbert Street or Te Puia Springs.
You can also text “Psychoactive” and your full name, street address, and preferred option, (Gladstone Rd OR Industrial Subdivision) to 027 530 3323.

ENDS

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