Have your say on legal high sales

The Waikato District Council is inviting feedback on a proposed policy on the sale of synthetic drugs in the district.

The Psychoactive Substances (Local Approved Products) Policy aims to keep the sale of legal highs out of residential neighbourhoods and away from sensitive sites such as schools.

It is provided for under the new Psychoactive Substances Act 2013, which enables the council to exercise some control over the location of premises selling the synthetic drugs. It cannot ban the sale of the legal highs outright.

Acting chief executive Tony Whittaker said the Council would prefer the products were banned but could only do its best to adopt a policy that helped protect the public.

A draft policy has been put together and proposes that premises selling legal highs be restricted to the central business areas of Ngaruawahia, Huntly, Raglan, Te Kauwhata and Tuakau and kept out of residential areas.

Whittaker said these areas were identified as the safest place for legal highs to be sold as there is a more prominent police presence and CCTV monitoring as well as a higher volume of vehicle and pedestrian traffic.

Other restrictions outlined in the draft policy include:

• Legal high retailers are to operate at least 50 metres away from a sensitive site. These sites are listed in the proposed policy and have been identified for the following reasons: they are predominantly frequented by families and/or people under 18-years-old, are frequented by vulnerable members of the community or Council has aspirations for the site to be a family-friendly zone.

• Legal high retailers are to operate at least 100 metres away from another retailer of the same products.

Whittaker said the reason for this is to reduce harm caused by the clustering of the activity.

“Clustering can lead to the development of a ‘red light’ zone, which can unintentionally change the character of that particular area in a negative way.”

He encouraged residents to have their say on the proposed policy.

“The sale of legal highs in our district is undesirable, however we believe we have put together a policy that protects our communities from this harmful activity the best we can, but we would like to hear from our residents. Their voice is very important when making these kinds of decisions.”

Consultation on the proposed policy will continue until Monday February 17.

A Statement of Proposal, a copy of the proposed policy and submission forms are at all council offices and libraries, on the council website or by calling the council on 0800 492 452.

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Number 8 Network - a community website for the rural areas northeast of Hamilton, NZ, is run by Gordonton journalist/editor Annette Taylor.

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