Finally! Government moves to ban all legal highs

By Harrison Christian

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Finally legal highs are to banned.
Finally legal highs are to banned.

Napier Mayor Bill Dalton is "absolutely delighted" with an announcement the Government will remove all legal highs from shelves within two weeks.

Associate Health Minister Peter Dunne revealed yesterday the Government would introduce and pass urgent legislation to remove all legal highs from sale when parliament resumed on May 6.

"Ministers accepted my recommendation at cabinet last Tuesday to end the transitional period, taking all products with interim approval off the market," Mr Dunne said.

The legislation meant the remaining 41 legal high products on the market would be removed from shelves until manufacturers could prove they were low-risk.

Mr Dalton, a vocal advocate for a blanket ban on psychoactive substances, said Mr Dunne was acknowledging the "experiment" involving legal highs had failed.

"Peter Dunne is admitting that the experiment they [the Government] undertook with our youth has failed," Mr Dalton said. "I congratulate him for finally having the guts to do what was required. It's what I wanted all along. It's why I took the minister on."

Mr Dalton had previously called the Government "wimpish" over its refusal to ban psychoactive substances and appeared on TVNZ's Seven Sharp earlier this month to debate the issue with Mr Dunne.

During the debate, the minister described the mayor's proposed blanket ban of all psychoactive substances as "foolish".

Mr Dunne told Hawke's Bay Today the new legislation was not a ban. "Bans don't work. This is not a ban, it is an extension of the existing legislation."

Hastings Mayor Lawrence Yule, who had also clashed with Mr Dunne over legal high regulation, said he was "grateful the Government had listened".

"The public has reacted and said we do not want these products in our communities and it has taken the Government by surprise," Mr Yule said.

Tukituki MP Craig Foss said the ban was a "leap forward" and "great news for communities and for families".

"We discussed it in cabinet last week, we talked it over and accepted his [Dunne's] recommendations," Mr Foss said.

Hastings district councillor Sandra Hazlehurst said "this is a huge triumph and a huge step in the right direction".

"The government has done a U-turn because of enormous public pressure."

Hawke's Bay Today launched a campaign against the sale of legal highs more than a year ago - with ongoing coverage of the plight of those affected and those pushing to make a change in the legislation. Hundreds of Hawke's Bay residents rallied against the sale of legal highs in Hastings and Napier early this month. Rally organiser Chantelle Brown said she was "rapt" with the Government's announcement, which was a "victory" for families that had been affected by legal highs.

Licence suspensions for two Hastings stores were extended indefinitely in late March as their appeals were processed by the psychoactive substances appeals committee.

Synthetic cannabis was still being sold from Napier's Adult Selections store.

- HAWKES BAY TODAY

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