Council places strict limits on sale of legal highs

19 March 2015

Wellington City Council’s Community, Sport and Recreation Committee today agreed on where psychoactive substances will be sold in Wellington – when they come back onto the market.

Proposed areas where legal highs could be sold.

Proposed places where psycho-active substances could be sold


Consultation has taken place on the proposed Local Approved Products Policy for the sale of approved psychoactive substances or Legal Highs.

Residents, businesses and interested groups expressed strong opposition to the sale of legal highs in Wellington City.

Committee chair Paul Eagle said many submitters wanted a complete ban on the products, which is outside the powers of the Council.

“In my view, psychoactive substances should be completely banned from being sold within Wellington City. However, the law does not permit us to place such a ban and I’m unhappy about this.”

However, there was overwhelming support for the Council to develop a policy to limit where legal highs could be sold.  The proposed area agreed will allow for psychoactive substances to be sold in the central city, with a buffer zone around schools and playgrounds. It also mirrors the area where police patrol the CBD and where there is extensive CCTV coverage.

Proposed Psycho-active Substances Policy (155KB PDF)

“We have a policy to responsibly manage the sale of these products – there will be no retail sales in any suburban areas, only the southern end of the CBD with specifications on the distance around sensitive sites such as schools and kindergartens”, he says.

The policy will be tightly monitored and if issues with outlets arise, the policy will be brought back to the Committee and reviewed.

Before psychoactive substances go back on the market they will be required to go through a rigorous process of testing and approval by the Ministry of Health.

“Within the limitations set by Central Government, this approach seeks to minimise harm,” says Mayor Celia Wade-Brown.

The decision will go to the full Council meeting at the end of March. The policy does not cover mail order and internet sales.

Licenses must be obtained by people or businesses who wish to import, research, manufacture, wholesale and retail psychoactive substances and products.