Sale of psychoactive substances

psychoactiveSelwyn District Council has adopted a local approved products policy at a meeting following consultation and feedback on a draft policy.

The policy restricts any future sales of psychoactive substances, commonly known as legal highs, to a small area in central Rolleston. The selling of psychoactive substances is controlled by the Ministry of Health. The ministry requires all retailers to have their products tested and approved as safe to be sold. The ministry also issues licenses to retailers to sell the product.

Under new legislation, the council has the option to develop a Local Approved Products Policy (LAPP). The council’s policy can only regulate where products can be sold and cannot prohibit the sale of legal highs in the district.

If the council does not develop a policy, then limitations on where retailers can sell legal highs would be guided by District Plan rules, which would provide less control over where legal high retailers are permitted to operate.

78 submissions were received on the council’s draft policy. Many submissions requested that the council ban the sale of approved products in Selwyn.

“While the working party appreciated that many submitters have concerns about legal highs, banning these products is something the council does not have the power to do,” says councillor Sarah Walters, chair of the Local Approved Products Working Party.
Currently there are no stores selling legal highs in Selwyn and the council is not aware of any retailers planning to establish stores.

Walters says that as a result of concerns raised in submissions about retail stores potentially locating near Rolleston School and the council’s concern around the lack of supervision of any activities on the vacant land west of the council headquarters after hours, the council has reduced the area in which retailers selling approved products can locate in central Rolleston. The vacant land between the council’s headquarters and the state highway has been removed from the permitted area. The permitted area runs along Rolleston Drive between the New World and Countdown supermarkets and takes in the area around Countdown.

The policy does not allow for approved products to be sold in any other areas in Selwyn. Under the policy, retailers selling legal highs also cannot locate within 100 metres of another retailer selling these products. The council has also written a letter to the Minister of Health setting out its concerns with the legislation relating to psychoactive substances.

Selwyn’s adopted policy is similar to policies in place in neighbouring Ashburton and Christchurch, where permitted areas for legal highs have been established in the central business areas of Ashburton and Christchurch. The same policies also pertain to Masterton and Carterton, where sellers of legal highs are also well fenced in.

Masterton and Carterton District Councils have adopted a draft LAPP to control the locations in which psychoactive substances can be sold. The boundaries are so tight only one outlet would be able to do business in each district.

In Masterton, sales of approved products would be limited to an area of Queen St and Dixon St between Jackson St and Lincoln Rd. In Carterton the approved area comprises the commercial zone along High St between Belvedere Rd and Pembroke St.

Under the draft policy, retailers must be at least 500 metres apart and cannot be within 100 metres of “sensitive sites” such as schools, children’s playgrounds, recreational facilities, health and social services and high deprivation areas.
Both zones are less than 500 metres in size, so only one outlet could fit in either restricted area.

All potential retailers would have to apply for a licence from the Psychoactive Substances Regulatory Authority and then seek approval for the intended location of their premises from the relevant local authority. Carterton Councillor Jill Greathead, chair of the Wairarapa psychoactive substances working group, says, “We have chosen areas within the main business area of each district where there is high foot and vehicle traffic and therefore greater visibility.”

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