Council and the Ōtaki Community Board are to continue working with Police, the Ministry of Health and local people on a policy to reduce the harm being done to the community by legal highs.
It is now illegal to sell most psychoactive substances, but Council has been advised by the Ministry to develop a Local Approved Product Policy (LAPP).
Ōtaki Ward Councillor Penny Gaylor and the Community Board have been taking a leading role in working with all parties locally, exposing the dangers of legal highs and the effect they are having, particularly on local youth.
As chair of the Environment and Community Development Committee, Councillor Gaylor arranged for a representative from Regional Public Health to talk to councillors.
“I wanted my fellow councillors to hear first hand from the professionals about the havoc these drugs have caused in our community and to discuss the role we can play in keeping them out of our shops and homes.
“We were told these drugs are killing our youth. We need to act now to minimise the damage being done.”
Councillor Gaylor says the Government-imposed product recall gives the Council more time to discuss the issues with stakeholders and communities to ensure the LAPP represents their interests.
“We’ll be working with other agencies including the Ministry of Health and Police to achieve this.”
Council will also be advocating with District Health Boards to get more help for users and their families through increased alcohol and drug services, says Councillor Gaylor.
“We also want to stress that no substances can now legally be sold across New Zealand. People who think the law is being flouted should contact their local Police.
“If they need advice and support they should contact the Drug Helpline on 0800 787 797.”