NEW ZEALAND - Auckland Council has agreed a draft policy on legal highs for public consultation. The regional strategy and policy committee today voted to adopt the draft policy which cannot prevent substances being sold once licensed by government but can ensure retail outlets are not near vulnerable communities, schools and treatment centres for mental health issues or substance abuse.
The decision to approve the draft policy and put it out to public consultation comes while the government has temporarily restricted the sale of the products. It is expected that the consultation and implementation of the policy will be complete ahead of the resumption of licenses being granted by government.
Committee chair councillor George Wood said the decision to approve the draft policy was the correct one and that public safety should be the number one priority.
"Our priority is to ensure the safety of Aucklanders and to make sure that the most vulnerable people in our society are not overly exposed to these products.
So it is important that we are ready to manage the availability of psychoactive substances once government begins to license them again," he says.
"We have to find a balance between the legal right of the public to purchase licensed products, and the need to ensure that they are not on the doorstep of the people who would be most susceptible to harm from their use.
"I am pleased the committee reached this decision. Now we will make sure that the consultation on the policy will allow Aucklanders to engage on this issue and have their voices heard."
The draft policy will now move into consultation phase, which is expected to open at the end of the month.
The New Zealand Herald/Oct 9, 2014
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