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Local Govt Act allows for bold action on synthetic cannabis

The Local Government Act allows for bold action on synthetic cannabis from SWDC
Parliament had an opportunity in July to outlaw the sale and production of synthetic cannabis with the Psychoactive Substances Bill.

Unfortunately the Bill only went as far as making limitations to the availability and accessibility of these legal highs:

• No sales from dairies or any sort of grocery store, petrol stations, or anywhere alcohol is sold;
• No sales to under 18 year olds;
• No advertising, except at the point of sale
• Anyone breaching the rules will face up to 2 years in prison or a fine of up to half a million dollars.

These law changes may decrease the availability and accessibility of the drug, but they are simply not good enough for a community who has expressed zero tolerance towards these substances.

There have been many recent hospitalisations from people smoking synthetic substances, which are in reality more dangerous than naturally grown cannabis.

Side effects of smoking synthetic cannabis have included experiencing seizures, heart palpitations, fever, dehydration and some psychotic episodes.

The cannabis plant is a Class C illegal drug while manufactured cannabis products such as hashish and oil are Class B. However, despite an increased danger to users and communities such as the South Waikato, the more dangerous synthetic cannabis remains legal for purchase and still within the reach of young people.

Local governments in New Zealand have only the powers conferred upon it by Parliament.

One of these powers is the ability to legislate bylaws in the interests of their community.

The Local Government Act 2002 covers the legal rights of local governments to create bylaws.

Bylaws are broadly made to cover one or more of the following purposes:
(a) protecting the public from nuisance:
(b) protecting, promoting, and maintaining public health and safety:
(c) minimising the potential for offensive behaviour in public places.

Local governments have used this Act of Parliament to create bylaws to regulate issues as varied as speed limits, dog control, prostitution, waste management, water supply and the list goes on.

With crime (a), public health and safety (b) and offensive behaviour (c) all being side-effects of using synthetic cannabis, this could be the perfect case to test the powers of local communities to create their own legislation.

The South Waikato District Council, including Mayor Neil Sinclair has unanimously voiced their support to rid synthetic cannabis from our district.

This unprecedented act follows a united stand from Putaruru residents to have the three synthetic retailers in their town remove these products from their shelves and protests against synthetic cannabis and the new ‘R18’ store in Tokoroa.

Added to this is the success of a recent “No Synthetics” campaign supported by;

• Social Sector Trials Governance Group
• Tokoroa Council of Social Services
• Population Health
• Sport Waikato
• Tokoroa Community Constable Jax Sherwood
• Former South Waikato Mayor and Head of the Safer Community Council Gordon Blake
• Senior staff at both of Tokoroa High School and Forest View High School.
• Many prominent businesses in the South Waikato

I support a move to investigate implementing a bylaw outlawing the sale of synthetic cannabis in the South Waikato District.

The public has spoken and their desire is to rid synthetic cannabis from our communities.

There is an opportunity for the Council to legislate in favour of our district’s desires.

It is the Council’s duty to follow this through via the available processes and make a bold statement to not only our own residents but to the rest of the country.

Sam Hill (Candidate for South Waikato District Council - Tokoroa Ward)


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