Tough stance on legal highs in plan

By Mike Dinsdale

16 comments
New regulations are to be enforced later this year. Photo/Michael Cunningham
New regulations are to be enforced later this year. Photo/Michael Cunningham

Whangarei District Council wants the government to impose tough rules for the sale of legal highs, including purchasers having to supply their name and address, with the information kept for three years to assist with investigations like workplace health and safety and anti-social behaviour.

The council's planning committee will meet today to approve its submission to the government's Psychoactive Substances Regulations which will determine controls over the sale of psychoactive substances.

As part of the Psychoactive Substances Act - introduced last year - the government has regulated the importation, manufacture, wholesale and supply of psychoactive substances. This has been through an interim licensing regime and once new regulations are in force licence holders will move to the full regime.

The Act regulates the importation, manufacture, wholesale and supply of psychoactive substances. Under the Act the council's only role is to adopt a local policy that can only regulate on location and density/proximity of licensed sellers.

The council is calling for submissions on its policy that would see sales restricted to lower Cameron St, Clyde St and Albert St.

The council's submission on the proposed regulations includes a request for sellers to maintain records of the product purchased; the quantity sold; the buyer, including full name and date of birth and proof of ID. It wants this information kept for three years to assist with investigations such as workplace health and safety, buying for minors, anti-social behaviour, and addiction. It wants CCTV coverage of all transactions to be kept by sellers and be available to police and Ministry of Health staff.

The council also wants to be able to restrict opening hours - something that is not in the Act - and wants products locked away and in plain packaging to deter marketing to minors. People should also only be able to buy one packet of legal highs a day, the submission urges. The council also wants smokable legal highs to be banned and for them to be sold only in pill form.

"This is a direct imitation of marijuana and uses the social cliques or cultures of marijuana smokers ... marijuana is a naturally derived product which these are not, this desensitised users to smoking chemicals substances, perceivably making it a gateway product to methamphetamine as well," the submission says.

Submissions on the regulations - which are likely to come into force later this year - close on March 21.

- Northern Advocate

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