Legal Highs Worry

legal highsKapiti Council to tell Govt it wants ban on psychoactive drugs

By Alan Tristram

The Kapiti Coast District Council says it will tell Government of its worries about being unable to stop the sale of psychoactive substances (legal highs) on the Coast.

The Psychoactive Substances Law introduced this year provides for councils to develop Local Approved Product Policies (LAPPs) to restrict the location of places where legal highs can be sold. The Ministry of Health will grant licences to sell legal highs on the basis a LAPP.

It has advised councils to proceed with LAPP development, even though a Government-imposed product recall is still in place pending development of an approved testing regime.

The LAPP will determine the location of sales outlets when the product recall ends. This includes how far outlets should be from places like schools, churches and public buildings.

The aim of the policy, under the legislation, is to reduce the potential for psychoactive substances to harm users and communities, without prohibiting their sale.

However, the KCDC would prefer to see the sale of legal highs in the District prevented.

Regulatory Management Committee Chair Diane Ammundsen says the community had been very concerned about the availability of psychoactive drugs before the law change stopped their sale.

She says Central Government is expected to have made rules for granting retail licences, and a testing regime,  by early 2015, meaning sales could begin again.

“We are being asked by Government to develop this policy, but we know our community does not want legal highs here,” she says.

“We need to make our views known to Government while at the same time engaging with our community to get their views on what a draft LAPP for Kāpiti might look like.”

Cr Ammundsen adds: “The lull in activity when we don’t have to manage the impact from sales of legal highs gives us more time to discuss the issues with stakeholders and communities to ensure the LAPP represents their interests. We’re aiming to have a draft ready for community feedback by October or November.

“We are very mindful of the community’s concerns and we’re committed to doing everything we can to reduce the impact of these substances on our District in the future.”