Dairy bows to public outcry

By Kiri Gillespie

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A Tauranga dairy has bowed to public pressure and stopped selling synthetic cannabis.

News of the decision came as Associate Health Minister Peter Dunne announced he was pushing his Psychoactive Substances Bill through Parliament quicker than planned to have legislation regulating synthetic cannabis in place by July.

Raj Singh, of Matua Dairy, said although he had people boycotting his store, he chose to stop selling in response to his regular customers who supported him regardless.

"They said they did not like me selling it but still bought things from me. They look after me, so I look after them," Mr Singh said.

Matua resident Peter Tinholt was one of a group of residents who boycotted the dairy and news of its decision and the swifter Government action was a "delightful" double whammy, he said.

"That's just great. It's overdue ... we need to get these products out of shops where they sell milk and sweets."

Mr Tinholt said he felt the Government was "dilly-dallying" and it could have approached the issue with the same vigour as it had by passing several other bills under urgency in recent months.

The Bill is currently before the Health Select Committee and expected to be reported back to Parliament on June 14. Its second reading was expected on June 27 to move through the final stages into law in July. It was originally scheduled to come into effect in August.

Mike Lawrence of Puff n' Stuff said legal high sales helped balance the decline of people smoking cigarettes and the business would feel it when the Bill came into effect.

Last month, Tauranga MP and fellow Matua resident Simon Bridges said it was important any legislation to address the availability of synthetic cannabis was "rigorous and fit for purpose".

"A rushed piece of legislation that will see lawyers and chemists finding loopholes around it in two months' time, effectively putting us back at square one, is unacceptable to me and, I suspect, unacceptable to the majority of New Zealanders," he said.

"It is a longstanding principle of New Zealand law that the Government's power should not be used to restrict behaviour unless it can be shown to be harmful, which is why these products are being regulated rather than banned outright."

Labour Party leader David Shearer said in Tauranga this week synthetic cannabis needed to be trialled before it was put on the market but the matter required swifter action.

"We need to do it quickly. It's been sitting around for too long. We've known this was a problem for years."

Mr Shearer said the Labour party would want to push the Bill through quickly.

"I've met too many parents who are watching the harm being done to their kids."

Western Bay of Plenty police Inspector Karl Wright-St Clair said officers had begun to visit dairies to check they were no longer selling banned synthetic cannabis products.


What is the Psychoactive Substances Bill?


This Bill would regulate otherwise unregulated psychoactive substances such as party pills and other ``legal highs''. The Bill would apply to the importation, manufacture, sale, supply, or possession of a psychoactive substance.


How will it benefit me?


Manufacturers of legal highs will need to prove their product is safe for consumption by going through rigorous testing. It is anticipated much of what is already available will be banned.


When will it all happen?


The legislation needs to be in place by August 13 to take over from the Temporary Class Drug Notice regime, which currently bans 35 legal high substances and will expire that day.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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