Plaudits for council
Work on a legal highs policy supported
The Queenstown Lakes District Council is being praised by social service groups for taking a stance on the sale of legal highs and creating an approved products policy.
At a council meeting, held in Queenstown last week, councillor Ella Lawton, on behalf of the Wanaka Alcohol Group, read a letter in support of the council and members of the Happiness House applauded its work towards the policy.
In May the Government placed a temporary ban on all psychoactive products until a product was shown to have ‘‘low risk of harm’’ through a testing regime – which was yet to be determined and expected to be established by the middle of this year.
Support Families Wakatipu support worker Jo Moore said legal highs had been a ‘‘big issue’’ for Queenstown families.
Moore said she had heard shocking stories about the effects of the highs.
They were not just detrimental to the user, but to their families and their pets as well.
However, Brew Worx owner Brendan Cameron, who used to stock the products, said he believed most people in the area were not abusing the products and were using it as an alternative to alcohol.
Many of those people resorted back to drinking alcohol.
‘‘Alcohol harm continues to be a problem.
‘‘My recommendation for this product [legal highs] would be to make it R21,’’ Cameron said.
He believed the products may return, but ‘‘it’s not going to be in the same form or strength’’, and would likely be in a vapour or pill form.
Having a policy in place before then meant when licences were granted and sales become approved, the council would have the ‘‘strongest influence’’ over where sales should take place. The policy could not ban approved products outright but could ban sales 200 metres from schools and childcare facilities, 50m from another approved retail premises, 30m from licensed premises and 25m from other sensitive sites.
Products cannot be sold in injectable, liquid or powder form, excluding tablet form, or where it resembles food, and can not be sold from residential premises, licensed premises, vending machines or any location frequented by minors, such as supermarkets, convenience stores and service stations.
Only the Health Ministry and police would be able enforce regulations.
Submissions were being called for on the policy as part of public consultation and three councillors would be appointed to a panel to consider them.
They close on April 30.
Queenstown Lakes District Councillor Ella Lawton.