Dairy owner charged under new drug legislation

By Calida Smylie

Photo / File / Sarah Ivey
Photo / File / Sarah Ivey

A Hamilton dairy owner will appear in court accused of selling synthetic cannabis in the country's first such case since new legislation came in last month.

The 33-year-old man, who owns the Beerescourt store where police seized more than 1200 packets of synthetic cannabis products last week, has been charged with selling and supplying a non-approved psychoactive product.

This is forbidden under the new Psychoactive Substances Act, which bans sales of synthetic drugs from dairies, grocery stores, petrol stations or anywhere alcohol is sold.

The law also prohibits sales to people aged under 18, introduces strict labelling requirements, and bans advertising, except for at the point of sale.

Synthetic drugs must now be approved by an official regulator within the Ministry of Health before they can go on sale.

While police took an educative approach the first few weeks since the law was enacted on July 18, they say rogue retailers can now expect to be prosecuted.

Waikato District Health Board health protection advisor Nick Young said the DHB took no pleasure in having the first dairy or superette in the country being prosecuted under this legislation being in Hamilton.

"It is concerning to see some ignoring the new law and we just hope the message is getting through. Under the legislation the penalties for this are quite high so we hope this sends out a strong message to other retailers looking to flout the law.

"As the year goes by we will be doing more and more enforcement ourselves."

Police district prevention manager Inspector Paul Carpenter said the Beerescourt dairy would appear on two charges under the Act. These are selling or supplying a non-approved psychoactive product under Section 70 (1) (a) and possession for sale or supply under Section 70 (1) (c).

Waikato Police and the DHB say they acted to prevent harm and hope the first prosecution under new legislation will prevent other business owners from contemplating breaking the law.

- APNZ

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