The communities of Winton and Te Anau are one step closer to an outright ban on the sale of legal highs, with a combined council hearing last week leaning towards keeping them out.
Southland District Mayor Gary Tong said the final Local Approved Products Policy still had to pass through council, but at this stage there was no support whatsoever for allowing sales in Te Anau or Winton.
“The LAPP recommendations are that Te Anau, because of a number of reasons, don’t have it, and the same for Winton,” Mr Tong said.
In April, the Invercargill City Council, and Gore and Southland district councils drafted a combined policy in compliance with the Psychoactive Substances Act, passed last year and allowing territorial authorities to regulate where legal highs can be sold.
The draft policy earmarked parts of Invercargill, Gore, Winton and Te Anau as permitted locations, and more than 250 public submissions were received.
A number of submitters mentioned the limited police and medical resources in these towns as cause for concern, Mr Tong said.
“Due to the possible risk of harm to residents and to emergency services in small areas having to deal with the amount of people affected by these substances.”
“The mayors are still focused on approaching central government to not have the substances allowed in New Zealand at all.”
Invercargill City Councillor and hearing chairwoman Karen Arnold said there were a number of policy amendments to come out of the hearing.
“We heard the submissions to the LAPP, which had been called for before the government put the ban on those substances.”
There were potential loopholes that needed to be addressed carefully to ensure a safe and all-encompassing policy, Ms Arnold said.
“Substances that were being sold have been banned, but if anyone can find a substance that’s tested and proved safe, that can be sold again,” she said. “Once the horse has bolted, we already know that these things take hold in the community.”
The hearing reconvenes next month before the final LAPP is released.