20 Oct 2014

Councillor pulls out of highs hearings

11:13 am on 20 October 2014

A prominent Whanganui district councillor has withdrawn from a legal highs hearing this week, fearing a legal challenge from the synthetic drugs industry.

Synthetic cannabis and a pipe.

Synthetic cannabis and a pipe. Photo: RNZ / Diego Opatowski

Philippa Baker-Hogan, who was an outspoken critic of legal highs, was the chair of the strategy and policy committee, which wass hearing submissions on the council's draft policy on psychoactive substances.

Ms Baker-Hogan, who called for synthetic drugs to be completely banned, was given legal advice that she risks a conflict-of-interest challenge if she takes part in the hearings, and has therefore pulled out.

Whanganui has received more than 700 submissions on the draft policy and about 70 submitters will appear at hearings over three days this week.

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