Growing community concern surrounding legal high sales is forcing Western Bay of Plenty District Council to step up and take action.
Western Bay of Plenty District councillors unanimously agreed at Thursday's Strategy and Policy Committee meeting to investigate the formation of a Local Psychoactive Substances policy for the district, which can influence where premises selling legal highs can be located.
K2 was one of the first synthetic cannabis' to be banned.
Western Bay Mayor Ross Paterson applauds his council on taking a proactive approach to the issue.
By looking to adopt this policy, the council is sending a clear and strong message to the communities that efforts are being made to put their minds at ease, says Ross.
Council's intervention comes after last month's protesting in both Katikati and Te Puke. Katikati's the Bamboo Barn, operated by the HD & KL Stone Partnership, has an interim licence to sell the psychoactive substances while an application to sell the legal highs by Vikash Chandra of Pooja Investments Ltd is also under consideration.
Last month about 100 concerned Te Puke residents rallied together in a silent protest against the R18 Puff 2 Go store in their town, which opened to sell the legal drugs following the new Psychoactive Substances Bill coming into effect.
Residents in Katikati also gathered late last month to discuss their concerns about legal highs reaching young people in their township.
Under the new bill stores with a licence can sell the R18 products. The law does prohibit the products being sold to anyone under 18 years, bans dairies from selling legal highs; and places restrictions on the labelling and packaging requirements, advertising and health warnings.
Western Bay councillor Margaret Murray-Benge fully supports the policy but offered a second option in lending a hand to the research and initiative already undertaken by Hamilton City Council.
“We all know what we want and that's to ban the jolly things. I think it would be better to support what Hamilton comes up with,” says Margaret.
“At the same time I think it's just a nuisance. Government has blundered on this burden and dumped it on us.”
WBOPDC corporate and planning services group manager Miriam Taris urged council not to get ahead of themselves as this policy does not give them the ability to ban the substances altogether.
“This is assisting council – these shops or organisations will be able to sell these substances in a controlled way – it is how you want to control that,” says Miriam.