A policy potentially limiting legal high retailers in
Dunedin is imminent.
Last year, Parliament passed the Psychoactive Substances Act,
which gave local authorities the power to draft a locally
approved product policy (Lapp). That policy would help
regulate where in their districts psychoactive products could
Dunedin City Council liquor licensing and project officer
Kevin Mechen confirmed a draft policy would go to a council
workshop in the next few weeks.
Following that discussion, a final draft would be presented
before going out for consultation.
Mr Mechen said while working on the draft he had received
much feedback, including a petition, and had talked to
researchers about legal highs.
The DCC did not want to be the first council to implement a
Lapp, and cited the example of Hamilton City Council which
was now the subject of a judicial review after suspending the
interim licences of six retailers of legal highs.
''We could rush and put something in place and then find that
it has absolutely no weight whatsoever.''
Dunedin's policy could introduce exclusion zones around
''sensitive areas'' such as schools, early childhood centres,
churches and social welfare agencies, rather than taking a
prohibition-type stance, he said.
At present, there were nine legal high retailers in the
Dunedin area. Last week, Associate Health Minister Peter
Dunne expressed his disappointment in the response of local
government authorities to develop and implement their Lapps.
That sentiment was echoed by Dunedin-based National List MP
Michael Woodhouse, who, in a column in The Star newspaper,
called on the DCC to implement ''its Lapp quickly and suspend
licences of retailers operating outside the parameters of
In April last year, Mayor Dave Cull urged a boycott of
synthetic cannabis, saying ''a minority of shop owners in
Dunedin persist in selling the substance, putting personal
gain against clearly identified community harm''.
Since the Act was passed, the number of retailers has dropped
from an estimated 3000-4000 to about 156. The number of
products has dropped from an estimated 200-300 to 41. No new
retail outlets are permitted until the interim period ends,
expected to be mid-2015.