The Psychoactive Substances Regulatory Authority (the Authority) has today extended suspensions on six interim psychoactive substance retail licences in Hamilton City.
The suspensions were put in place on 11 March following advice from the Hamilton City Council which has adopted a Local Approved Products Policy (LAPP) under section 66 of the Psychoactive Substances Act 2013 (the Act).
This policy enables the Council, in consultation with its community to identify where in the city licenced retailers can sell approved, psychoactive products. The Council advised the six retailers were in areas not permitted by the LAPP.
The decision to extend the suspensions is taken in response to two issues.
Firstly the Authority has been advised that appeals have been laid against its decision to suspend licences in relation to their compliance with the LAPP. These appeals will be heard by the Psychoactive Substances Appeals Committee.
Secondly, the Authority has been advised judicial review proceedings have been filed seeking a review of the Hamilton City Council’s LAPP.
On this basis the Authority has decided to continue with the suspensions of the retail licences until five working days after either resolution of the appeal or the judicial review proceedings in the High Court, whichever is the later.
However the action against the Authority includes seeking temporary relief on the suspensions in place so that retailers can reopen for business while the main appeals are being processed through the Appeals Committee.
If the appellants are successful in their appeal for temporary relief the Appeals Committee can lift or direct the Authority to lift the suspensions, at which point retailers could reopen. The Committee is meeting on 1 April.
All affected retailers must continue to refrain from selling psychoactive substances or products while their licence is suspended.
The Authority has also decided to keep the applications for two interim licences to retail psychoactive products under consideration until five working days after resolution of the judicial review proceedings in the High Court.
Background to the Act
Since the Psychoactive Substances Act (the Act) came into effect on 18 July 2013 there has been a substantial reduction in the widespread availability of psychoactive products that caused significant harm.
Anecdotal reports from district health boards already show a noticeable improvement since the introduction of the Act in terms of mental health presentations related to the use of psychoactive products.
Prior to the Act more than 2-300 products were being sold from 3-4000 outlets (including dairies) to people of any age. Since then the number of outlets has reduced by more than 95% to around 155, more than 75% of products been removed from sale, and there are strict controls on advertising and age of access to these products.
These improvements have been taken as a first and interim step during the transition to full regulations.