Council moves on legal-highs policy

Psychoactive substances are not wanted in Oamaru or the wider Waitaki district, Waitaki Mayor Gary Kircher said this week.

While the Ministry of Health consults on developing a regulatory regime under the Psychoactive Substances Act, the Waitaki District Council has decided to urgently develop a local approved products policy covering the sale of legal highs.

Cr Jim Hopkins put forward the proposal for developing the policy in conjunction with community safety officer Helen Algar, using one developed by the Hamilton City Council as a basis.

Mr Kircher said he had obtained a copy of Hamilton's policy and modified it to suit Waitaki needs. In Hamilton, the policy had reduced outlets from eight to three.

''What we are saying is we do not want it [the substances] in our town and district and we will do what we can to get rid of them,'' he said.

It is believed only one outlet is offering psychoactive substances in Oamaru, and Mr Kircher said it should be closed as soon as possible.

''We do not want our community destroyed.

''Let's get a policy in place and make sure it works as well as it can,'' he said.

Cr Melanie Tavendale said any policy should also include systems to help people who were addicted.

However, Cr June Slee was worried approving a policy could be seen as support for the sale of the substances, when in fact the community was opposed.

The Government had put the issue in the ''too hard basket'' and thrown it at local government to resolve, she said.

Cr Peter Garvan said the real issue was at a national level and the Ministry of Health should ban all substances.

A policy would place a wide range of controls on how and to whom the substances can be sold, as well as a licensing system.

- Queenstown Lakes District Council regulatory manager Lee Webster said the council took the issue of legal highs seriously and was in the process of making a submission about the regulations ''as national regulations are likely to have far greater positive impact for our community than the limited aspects we could include in a policy''.

Mr Webster said for that reason, the council had not considered restricting the sale of legal highs ''any more closely than is already provided for under the Psychoactive Substances Act''.

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