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Legal Highs Policy (Local Approved Products Policy)


Our Legal Highs Policy (Local Approved Products Policy) is a set of policy criteria and decisions made by Council in consultation with its community which may restrict the location of premises selling psychoactive products in our district.

Whilst there are no “legal highs” that are legally available for sale in New Zealand, we still think it’s a good idea to continue to have this Policy in place so that there are rules about where a premises may be located.

What's included in the policy?

We are required to review the Legal Highs Policy every five years. Council is proposing to continue with its Policy to proactively regulate the sale of approved products (psychoactive substances) within the district.

The Policy contains provisions to protect the community including:

  •  A 300 metre distance restriction between retail premises selling legal highs.
  • 25 metre distance restriction from sensitive sites including churches, preschools, schools and community facilities.


Are we proposing any changes to the Policy?

We are proposing to mainly leave the current Policy as is (status quo), apart from some minor housekeeping changes. We want to know if any changes are required to meet the needs of the community.

We are not making any changes to the areas where licensed premises can be permitted, nor the areas detailing sensitive sites. No changes are proposed to the buffer zone distances. 


Council decision

We received 24 submissions on the draft Legal Highs (Local Approved Products Policy). Of these submissions, 14 agreed with the proposed option to adopt the updated policy, 7 did not agree with the proposal, and 3 did not have an opinion, or did not select an option.

Submissions received reflected a desire for a more restrictive policy to limit the number of stores that are allowable, and there were calls for Council to ban "legal highs" from our community.

Whilst there are no psychoactive substances or "legal highs" approved for sale in new Zealand, Council determined it is important to have a policy in place to restrict the location of any retail stores, in the event that the Psychoactive Substances Regulatory Authority does approve a product for sale in the future,

At its meeting on 22 May 2024, Council decided to increase the distance between one retail premises to another - to 350 metres. Council noted that the Psychoactive Substances Act 2013 (the Act) does not permit Council to ban the sale of psychoactive substances ("legal highs") in the district, nor is it able to put in place a policy so restrictive that it creates a de facto ban.

This decision reflects submissions calling for a more restrictive policy, and results in a maximum allowance of one store per town (Matamata, Morrinsville and Te Aroha). This change in policy provision safeguards our community as much as possible while not going beyond Council's powers under law.

Council also decided to amend the title of the policy to: Psychoactive Substances Policy (Local Approved Products Policy) to reflect the legal term used in the Act.

You can view the final Psychoactive Substances Policy (Local Approved Products) by clicking the button below. This policy will apply from 1 July 2023 and will be available to view on our website (under Policies and Bylaws). 

Psychoactive Substances Policy (Local Approved Products Policy) 2024 


Get involved

Submissions have now been closed.


Draft Legal Highs Policy (Local Approved Products Policy) 2024

Statement of Proposal

Map of Sensitive Sites - Matamata

Map of Sensitive Sites - Morrinsville

Map of Sensitive Sites - Te Aroha

Draft Legal Highs Policy (Local Approved Products Policy) 2024

Draft Legal Highs Policy (Local Approved Products Policy) 2024 (with tracked changes)


Project Timeline


Council adopt draft Legal Highs Policy (Local Approved Products Policy)

8 Mar 2023



Submission period

21 March - 21 April 2024

Community present submissions to Council

8 May 2024 (9 May if needed) 2024

Council consider submissions/make decisions

TBA May 2024

Council adopt Legal Highs (Local Approved Products Policy)

26 June 2024

New Legal Highs Policy (Local Approved Products Policy) applies

1 July 2024