Local Approved Products Policy

Local Approved Products Policy

Submissions are now closed on this policy

What is being proposed?

Council has reviewed the Local Approved Products Policy and believes no changes are necessary at this time. We would like to know if you think that the Policy is appropriate, or if you think we need to make some changes to make it more effective.


The Psychoactive Substances Act 2013 regulates the manufacture and sale of psychoactive substances, also known as ‘legal highs’, in New Zealand. The Act was introduced to ensure manufacturers of these products underwent safety and risk testing, and to minimise the potential harm caused by psychoactive substances. Under the Act, councils are able to adopt a policy detailing the locations of premises from where approved products may be sold.

Under the legislation, Council does not have the power to prohibit the sale of ‘legal highs’. This is regulated by the Psychoactive Substances Regulatory Authority (PSRA). The PSRA issues licences to people and businesses wanting to import, manufacture and sell psychoactive substances in New Zealand. All products must also undergo a rigorous approval process. The products must pose no more than a low risk of harm to users, and go through a process similar to that required for new medicines. If a product meets these strict criteria it is classified as an approved product.

In 2014 Council adopted a policy addressing the licencing and control of retailers wanting to sell approved products or legal highs. Council recognised that within the community there was considerable concern about the availability, effects and usage of these substances. Council further recognised a need to be mindful of the future and to ensure proper controls were in place for any potential development in this particular sector of retail.

What are Psychoactive Substances?

A psychoactive product or substance refers to a substance, mixture, preparation, article, device, or thing that is capable of inducing a psychoactive effect in an individual who uses the substance. They can also sometimes be known as ‘legal highs’ or ‘synthetics’.

Approved Products in the Timaru District

Broadly, the current policy restricts retail outlets of approved psychoactive substances to Commercial Zone 1A in Timaru. Legal highs cannot be sold in other townships or in rural areas.

Council cannot ban shops that sell legal highs. The law only permits our policy to restrict the location and density of shops selling legal highs.

As at 31 May 2019 there were no approved products in Timaru or New Zealand, and no applications for approval have been received since the Psychoactive Substances Act was introduced in 2013.


While it is Council’s preferred option to maintain the existing Local Approved Products Policy, there are a couple of other options available:

Revoke the policy

The legislation does not require Council to have a policy. As there are currently no approved products in New Zealand, or any applications for approval, it could be concluded that it is unnecessary to have such a policy. However, Council would prefer to maintain the policy in the event that some psychoactive substances are approved in the future.

Amend the policy

Council’s policy cannot ban psychoactive substances, or regulate them to such an extent that it effectively creates a ban, however the locations where approved products can be sold can be amended. Council is confident that the current policy provides the appropriate restrictions for potential retailers of approved products.

Do you support any of these other policy options? Click here to submit your feedback

Current Policy

Local Approved Products Policy

Last updated: 20 Jul 2021