Policy could further restrict sale of legal highs

By Matthew Martin

Rotorua District councillor Merepeka Raukawa-Tait
Rotorua District councillor Merepeka Raukawa-Tait

Rotorua's council has approved a process which could further restrict the sale of legal highs in the city.

On Tuesday, Rotorua district councillors approved a draft Local Approved Products Policy (LAPP) that would limit opportunities for retailers of psychoactive substances to operate in Rotorua, saying there was no place for their sale in the city. While legislation does not allow for a total ban on the sale of legal highs, it does give councils the right to set restrictions on where and when they can be sold and how many retailers can sell them.

The four existing outlets in the CBD with interim licences would not be able to continue operating and would be left with few places to relocate.

The council's proposals would initially allow a maximum of just three premises to be licensed, but a "sinking lid" policy would mean those numbers would be reduced and no new licences would be approved.

The council would also recommend to the Government that hours of sale for legal highs be restricted to between 9am and 2.30pm Mondays to Fridays. Their sale would not be permitted during public and school holidays.

The council's strategy, policy and finance committee chairwoman, Merepeka Raukawa-Tait, said the clear message that sellers of harmful psychoactive substances should take from the decision was that they were not wanted in Rotorua.

Mrs Raukawa-Tait said councillors felt government legislation did not go far enough and they should be able to implement an outright ban of the sale of legal highs.

Skingraft owner David Young said he had been selling legal highs for more than 20 years and would be making a submission on the draft policy.

Mr Young said he would comply with any new bylaws. "But if they try and ban it outright people will try and find something else."

Public consultation will begin in March.

- Rotorua Daily Post

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