Party pill protests continue

An advertising trailer outside an Oamaru store granted an interim licence to sell legal-high...
An advertising trailer outside an Oamaru store granted an interim licence to sell legal-high products. Photo by Andrew Ashton.
Renewed protests over the legal sale of party pills and other so-called legal highs have returned to Oamaru after it emerged psychoactive substances were being sold over the counter in the town.

The introduction of the Psychoactive Substances Act in July banned the sale of synthetic cannabis and legal highs in dairies and petrol stations, but allowed for tobacconists and R18 shops to apply for an interim retail licence.

The Ministry of Health has granted an interim licence to sell psychoactive substances to Ruilin Tu (trading as Super Save) at 41 Thames St.

Under the terms of the licence, the shop will be able to sell psychoactive substances ''shown to pose no more than a low risk of harm'' to people over the age of 18. The licence also states there must be no advertising of products except at point of sale.

The owner of the Super Save store, which had a poster of Bob Marley smoking a ''joint'' in the display window, was not available for comment on Thursday or yesterday, despite repeated requests for comment.

The appearance of a billboard trailer, opposing the sale of legal highs, outside the shop is evidence some in the town are unhappy about the products.

Local lawyer Bill Dean, who is married to Waitaki MP Jacqui Dean, said he placed the trailer outside the shop ''just to make people aware'' of the issue.

Mr Dean said he had seen some of the effects of legal highs through his job as a lawyer, and he felt selling legal highs was ''akin to selling poison over the counter''.

''This is driven by nothing more than money. The fact these items are dangerous doesn't factor into it.''

The trailer and billboard would be placed at the same location ''from time to time'', he said.

Waitaki MP Jacqui Dean said she would ''applaud any member of any community'' who was prepared to make a stand on the issue and who took direct action against ''these sellers of drugs''.

Mrs Dean said she had spoken directly to Associate Health Minister Todd McClay about Super Save, and the ministry was ''taking a very close look'' at whether the outlet was operating within its licence.

Waitaki mayor-elect Gary Kircher said there were ''huge concerns'' within the community about the sale of such products.

''While acknowledging that this is a case where a retailer has followed a process, in this case it's something I believe is very damaging to our community in ways that don't even compare to other problems we already have.''

Mr Kircher said although he was keen for the council to ''do what we can to sort this out'', councillors would first have to assess what options were available to them.

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