Retailers will be able to apply to sell psychoactive substances again next year, however a suitable testing method to prove they are 'low risk' is yet to be found.
Waikato District Health Board health protection advisor Nick Young said because animal testing cannot be used, including data taken from animal testing overseas, other testing methods will have to be sought.
He said the issue of legal highs is in 'limbo' as the Government is yet to pass the final regulations for the Psychoactive Substances Act.
"These [regulations] have been put into place on the basis that they will be sold again in the future. That is why they haven't gotten rid of the Act. If someone comes up with [a product] in the future that passes all the tests and gets permission then all the regulations are in place. But when that will be, I don't know."
Hamilton City Council was able to stop psychoactive substances from being sold in the city by creating a policy that limited the sale to four areas of the city centre.
The retailers who were able to sell the products at the time were not able to move premises under the conditions of their interim licence, and all of them were outside the areas selected by the council for sale.
Interim licences were issued after the Government introduced the Psychoactive Substances Act 2013 to control the manufacture, sale, and importation of psychoactive substances in New Zealand but because the Act was not fully implemented only interim licences were granted.
The Government released regulations on November 3 which included the restriction of sale, labelling, packaging, storage and display, the application for approval of psychoactive product, prohibitions and restrictions on certain forms of approved product and prohibitions on place of sale of approved products. Importers, manufacturers, wholesalers and retailers will be able to apply for licences after the final regulations have been released, but will have to prove their products are safe. The substances were banned temporarily in Hamilton until the Act was implemented. The products will be able to be sold after the final regulations are released mid 2015.
City licensing supervisor Sergeant Jim Kernohan said since the ban there have been a number of arrests for selling the products.
"The reality is there will be people who will want to obtain these products and they will do what ever they need to do to get them.
"We still have those undesirable characters [loitering], but we don't have the concentration in the areas that were a problem, but they have pulled [the old] Les Mills down, they have taken away the seats from [some] bus stops, and there have been other initiatives which have added to addressing the problem, so we have not seen the extent of problems we have seen in the past, and certainly in Hamilton East it has gone completely quiet."