Strongest message yet to Government on legal highs


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26 February 2014

The Chair of Hamilton City Council’s Strategy and Policy Committee, Angela O’Leary said today “Central Government has caused harm to our community, and our people with their Psychoactive Substances Act.”

Ms O’Leary made this statement at today’s deliberations on the draft Psychoactive Substances Policy which identifies the Central City as the preferred location from which legal highs can be sold.

The draft policy recommends to the Ministry of Health that all interim licences will be withdrawn. However this is up to them to enact.

The draft policy now goes to full council meeting to be adopted tomorrow (Thursday 27 February).

Once council adopts the Psychoactive Substances Policy, it is then the responsibility of the Ministry of Health to give effect to this policy.

“We weren’t prepared for the consequences of the Psychoactive Substances Act and I believe we have a very strong policy which sends a very clear message to Central Government.

"The only tool they’ve allowed us to use forced us to choose the very best of a bad outcome; we have done the only thing we (local government) are allowed to do under your Act.

"It’s now up to central government to enact the policy and take action on our community’s behalf,” added Cr O’Leary.

The Central City option was the preferred option for 59 percent of submitters. With 6 percent supporting the Central City and Te Rapa option and 34 percent supporting alternatives.

The Central City was chosen as the best option by Council as there is high Police presence, CCTV surveillance as well as high flows of pedestrian and vehicle traffic which provide passive surveillance and increased safety.

Moving forward, there will be discussion around establishing a working group to consider alternative options available to supplement the policy such as managing the safety and social issues which are a consequence of legal highs being used in our community.



Name:             Angela O’Leary
Designation:   Strategy and Policy Committee Chair
Tel (Direct):     021 343 774


Key facts

  • Hamilton City Council's Psychoactive Substances Policy identifies the central city for where legal high retailers can be located.
  • There are currently eight interim licence holders in our city, five of which are located within the central city. Under Council's policy, all of these licences are non-compliant. It is now up to the Ministry of Health to give effect to our policy.
  • Taking into consideration the sensitive site buffer zones, the policy only leaves small areas on the outskirts of the central city for legal high retailers to be located.
  • No full licences will be issued by the Ministry of Health until mid-2015. This means if they act on our policy immediately, our city should be free of retailers until then.
  • Sensitive sites include:
    • any library, museum, community hall or recreational facility,
    • any place of worship, school, kindergarten, childcare centre or educational institution,
    • any premise occupied by a social welfare agency such as Work and Income or similar agency,
    • Civic Square, Garden Place, the Hamilton High/District Court, Embassy Park and the Transport Centre,
    • the Waikato river, the river walkway, pharmacies medical centres, key bus stops and stand-alone public toilets.
  • Other actions the Council resolved to do included:
    • submit on the Psychoactive Substances Regulations in support of enabling area prohibition of Psychoactive Substance sales;
    • establish a working group to consider alternative options available to supplement Council's Psychoactive Substances Policy including the issue of the management of anti-social behaviour in public places and taking into account the Central City Transformation Plan. This will include consideration of both a bylaw and changes to the District Plan.

Further information



Page reviewed: 26 Feb 2014 12:00am