Bernard Orsman

Bernard Orsman is Super City reporter for the NZ Herald.

Poor suburbs bypassed for synthetic drug outlets

Poorer suburbs could find the sale of synthetic drugs banned under a new policy being developed by Auckland Council. Photo / APN
Poorer suburbs could find the sale of synthetic drugs banned under a new policy being developed by Auckland Council. Photo / APN

The sale of synthetic drugs could be banned in poor suburbs such as Otara, Mangere and Henderson and small residential shopping centres under a policy being developed by Auckland Council.

The council is drawing up rules where retail outlets of psychoactive substances can operate, including a ban within 300m of a high school, 100m of a primary school and 500m of an existing store.

It is hoped the rules will be in place by the time synthetic drugs are due back on sale next year.

The Government made an emergency law change in May stopping the sale of all party pills and synthetic cannabis until a rigorous testing regime is in place.

Under the Psychoactive Substances Act 2013, councils can produce a "local approved product policy" to regulate where legal highs can be sold.

Under the draft policy approved by the regional strategy and policy committee yesterday, retail licences cannot be granted in areas of high deprivation, near schools and near addiction and mental health treatment centres.

Last night, Manurewa Local Board chairwoman Angela Dalton said it was good the council was proposing to ban the sale of legal highs where the harm was greatest, but said people would travel anywhere to buy the substances.

"They shouldn't be sold anywhere," she said.

Waitakere Ward councillor Linda Cooper raised the prospect of people travelling to wealthy suburbs such as Remuera to buy synthetic drugs.

Council policy analyst Callum Thorpe said research showed that people living in high social deprivation areas experienced more harm from using psychoactive substances.

"We are not saying they can't go out and buy it, but what people can't do is at 10:30 at night pop around the corner and get some. We are making it a little bit harder, a little bit less available," Mr Thorpe said.

Massey University drug researcher Chris Wilkins said the Auckland Council had put considerable effort into consulting and developing an appropriate policy.

The council will now seek feedback from local boards.

A final draft policy is expected to go out for public consultation in November to be approved in March next year.

Sales points

Areas banned from selling psychoactive substances:

• Socially deprived suburbs
• Small residential shopping centres
• Within 300m of a high school
• Within 100m of a primary school
• Within 300m of a mental health or addiction treatment centre
• Within 500m of an existing psychoactive substance retail licence
• Draft policy before public consultation beginning in November

- NZ Herald

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