Legal highs attract wide interest
Submissions on the Draft Legal Highs Policy were open from January 17 to February 17 and a total of 291 residents made a submission to the proposed policy.
‘‘We are very pleased with the number of residents who made a submission and the quality of the submissions,’’ said Matamata-Piako District Mayor Jan Barnes.
‘‘It was important the community understood that we don’t have the power to ban legal highs.
‘‘All we can do, through consultation with the community, is control the number and location of them.’’
Matamata- Piako District Council proposed to limit the sale of legal highs to a section of Broadway in Matamata, Thames St in Morrinsville and Whitaker St in Te Aroha.
‘‘We share the community’s concerns and agree that there is no ideal place for these products to be sold,’’ said Mrs Barnes.
‘‘However, given the limited power central government has given us, we believe a Legal Highs Policy is the best way to safeguard our community and prevent retailers from selling these products near sensitive places like residential areas, schools, and churches.’’
The law prohibits the sale of legal highs in dairies, convenience and grocery stores, service stations and liquor outlets.
‘‘ A policy that effectively says ‘ no’ would not stand up in a court of law because it is beyond the powers given to us by central government,’’ Mrs Barnes said.
‘‘ If we don’t set a policy there is nothing stopping retailers setting up shops anywhere in our district.’’
There are currently no legal high stores in the district and no pending applications for legal high stores to open in the district.
‘‘Looking at the submissions we can see that the community is quite divided in where they think legal highs should be located.’’
Councillors will now consider all the feedback on the proposed policy and listen to presentations from submitters at a public hearing on March 5, at the Diprose Miller boardroom in Te Aroha.
The hearing will 9.15am.
‘‘ We will take all this feedback into account and do our best to put a policy in place that will minimise harm in our community,’’ Mrs Barnes said.