Soft Touch on Legal Highs Failing Communities

Media Release 2 April 2014
Family First says that the legislation governing legal highs is a ‘hospital pass’ to local councils, and families and communities are being put at a risk as a result.

“Local communities do not want a soft approach on the scourge of synthetic cannabis and other legal highs. The Psychoactive Substances Act gave councils the power to develop policies to control the location of legal-high retailers but the risk of litigation and costly legal bills means that councils are caught between a rock and a hard place,” says Bob McCoskrie, National Director of Family First NZ.

“The legislation is similar to the effect of the prostitution law reform. Communities don’t want either – but are unable to act in the best interests of families.”

“Communities throughout New Zealand including Dunedin, Palmerston North, New Plymouth and many others are trying to deal with the fall-out and harms of these drugs – but feel powerless. Synthetic cannabis and other psychoactive substances have been linked to seizures, headaches, tremors, vomiting and psychosis.”

“The harm minimisation approach is failing communities and is completely ineffective. Yes, the Act has reduced the number of outlets, but it really hasn’t made any difference to the usage or the harm being caused.”

Family First is calling on the government to introduce urgent legislation that empowers councils to ban the sale of legal highs in their communities without the threat of costly litigation.

ENDS