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Christchurch dairies switch to sell drugs

Christchurch dairies banned from selling synthetic drugs are transforming themselves into R18 stores to comply with new regulations.

The Psychoactive Substances Act, which came into effect last week, makes it illegal for dairies, convenience stores, liquor outlets and supermarkets to sell herbal highs such as Kryptonite and Tai High.

The act requires other businesses to apply to the Ministry of Health for a licence to sell the drugs.

Of nine Christchurch companies who have applied for licences, The Press found two were converted dairies, two were variety stores and one appeared to have simply set up an R18 shop next door.

The others were Cosmic Corners and adult stores.

Jackie Wang, owner of the R18 Store Lincoln Rd, which was previously the Lincoln Road Dairy, said the new business had been open one week.

Wang said the new business was “better than the dairy shop”, because high competition among dairies made it hard to make a profit.

Sergeant Bevan Seal said the dairy conversions were worrying.

“If they are selling such a small number of items in a shop and still making money, it shows how much they are making off these products,” he said.

An employee at another store, who did not wish to be named, said it had chosen to convert into an R18 store specifically so they could continue to sell synthetic drugs.


A Christchurch father whose son has struggled with synthetic cannabis addiction said it was unbelievable businesses might be able to sidestep the legislation by starting R18 stores.

“I’m angry that somebody somewhere has come up with this way to beat the system.”

His son had become so hooked, he had been stealing from family members to fund his habit.

He and his wife took photos of their son to local outlets and “begged them not to sell that stuff to him” but say they were laughed off by store owners.

Associate Health Minister Todd McClay said it was not the role of the Ministry of Health to restrict numbers of R18 stores set up to sell synthetic drugs. The act allowed local councils to put some controls on legal high outlets in their communities, he said.

Psychoactive Substances Authority manager Dr Donald Hannah said dairies changing into R18 shops was not a direct concern, as long as they met legal requirements.

“As a result of this coming into force, the total number of outlets is now a mere fraction of what it was,” he said. “We have significantly reduced the market, both in the range of products sold and the places that can sell them.”

_Tess McClure for The Press