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New Policy to Restrict Sale of Legal Highs in Masterton and Carterton

Masterton and Carterton District Councils have adopted a draft Local Approved Products Policy (LAPP) to control the locations in which psychoactive substances can be sold. The Psychoactive Substances Act 2013 does not permit councils to ban the sale of products such as party pills, energy pills and herbal highs, but it does allow them to restrict where they can be sold.

In Masterton, sales of approved products will be limited to an area of Queen Street and Dixon Street between Jackson Street and Lincoln Road, whilst in Carterton the approved area comprises the commercial zone along High Street between Belvedere Road and Pembroke Street, but only including those premises where access is gained from the named streets.”

Under the draft policy, retailers must be at least 500 metres apart and cannot be within 100 metres of ‘sensitive sites’, which are defined as schools, children’s playgrounds/recreational facilities, health/social services and high deprivation areas.

All potential retailers must apply for a licence from the Psychoactive Substances Regulatory Authority before they can operate and then they must seek approval for the intended location of their retail premises from the relevant local authority.

Carterton Councillor Jill Greathead, Chair of the Wairarapa Psychoactive Substances Working Group which formulated the draft policy, believes that the areas selected will help to maintain a good level of control over the sale of these products.

“Under the law as it stands, we are unable to ban the sale of these products completely and without putting a policy in place, legal high shops could be set up anywhere that is suitably zoned for retail activity,” she explained.

“We have chosen areas within the main business area of each district where there is high foot and vehicle traffic and therefore greater visibility. These busy locations have a higher police presence and are also monitored by CCTV cameras, which will improve safety.”

Councils who adopt a LAPP must identify locations which provide enough opportunity for retail outlets to operate if they choose to, as Councillor Pip Hannon of Masterton District Council explains: “The law says that we have to be ‘reasonable’ in selecting locations, therefore we can’t be so restrictive that it becomes impossible to find somewhere suitable. Our working group considered a number of proposed locations and believe the ones we have selected pass the test of reasonableness.”

The draft LAPP is now open for public consultation and copies are available from Masterton and Carterton District Council offices and libraries, and online by clicking here. Written submissions must be received by 4.30pm on Monday 15th June 2015 and all submitters will have an opportunity to be heard in person.

14 May 2015

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