The Psychoactive Substances Bill has become law to the dismay of anyone who cares about animals. Animals are likely to pay with their lives for these drugs to be tested.
The Bill will require manufacturers of recreational drugs to prove that these drugs will pose only a low risk to consumers before they are allowed to bring them onto the market.
There is nothing wrong with that of course; safety for consumers is important and, given that these drugs are widely consumed, setting safety standards makes perfect sense.
What is appalling, however, is that animals are likely to be killed so these drugs can be tested.
This is abhorrent for a number of reasons. It is obvious to most of us that torturing animals to death for the sake of unnecessary recreational drugs is completely unethical.
There are plenty of non-animal tests available that can determine the safety of party drugs, so leaving the door open to (possibly cheaper) animal testing methods is deplorable.
It is hard to believe that animal tests could provide reliable results anyway. Testing a psychoactive drug on a rat or dog for a few weeks or even months is hardly going to prove that it is safe for a human who may take the drug for many years.
How many people will suffer brain damage in the future in the mistaken belief that the drugs they use are safe because they have been tested on animals?
Govt tried to deflect criticism
The Government has tried to deflect criticism of the bill by adding a clause that states that animals can only be used for testing if there are no suitable alternatives.
To the uninitiated, that may not sound too bad but it is almost a certainty that this clause will do little to protect animals.
The clause will be a nightmare for the bureaucrats who have to approve new recreational drugs.
- Will they make the effort to investigate alternative testing methods develop here and overseas?
- Will they turn down applications that use animal data and force manufacturers to re-test using humane methods?
My guess is that this clause will not be enforced and that the interests of the animals will be ignored.
It will be up to animal rights and welfare groups to act as watchdogs. If animal testing is carried out in the approval process for recreational drugs, politicians can expect legal challenges and a huge public outcry.
The Government will be held to account for any suffering inflicted. New Zealanders simply do not want to see animals harmed for the sake of a legal high.