6 May 2014

Legal high ban seen as distraction

5:21 pm on 6 May 2014

The STAR Trust legal high lobby group says the debate about banning legal highs is distracting from animal testing by the cosmetics and pharmeceutical industries.

Legislation is being rushed through Parliament on Tuesday to ban all synthetic drugs unless they can be proven low risk without testing on animals.

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Photo: RNZ / Diego Opatowski

STAR Trust general manager Grant Hall said the legal highs industry is resilient and there is still a market demand for the drugs.

He said the industry has never tested products on animals, but the cosmetics and pharmaceutical industries used and killed 82,000 animals in their tests.

Mr Hall said prohibition will not prevent the sale of legal highs and only shift control to the black market.

He told Morning Report that both genuine and counterfeit products are hitting the black market.

The Drug Foundation says the proposed law change banning legal highs is a step backwards, which puts users at more risk.

Executive director Ross Bell said the drugs will still be available, but they won't be regulated and could hurt more users.

End of export committee

The head of an expert committee set up especially to establish a testing regime for legal highs says it will have nothing to do after animal testing is stopped.

Otago University's Associate Professor of Medicine Richard Robson chairs the committee which was set up last year to advise the Government on testing.

Professors Robson said it's difficult to envisage a regime without animal data and it's possible the committee will be disbanded.

Why have a committee that has nothing to do, he said.

Meanwhile, a professor of toxicology said there is no way to be certain sythentic drugs are safe without testing them on animals.

Canterbury University toxicology expert Ian Shaw told Nine to Noon it's the only way of proving them safe.

Professor Shaw said the testing would involve rats, rabbits, and dogs, exposed to chemicals on a daily basis, for at least 90 days.

Search warrant

Counties Manukau police said on Tuesday a search warrant had been executed on an unlicensed premise that was selling synthetic cannabis. Approximately 100 bags of synthetic cannabis products were seized on Monday.

Police were alerted about the dairy by a member of the public

A man will appear in the Manukau District Court on Friday charged with selling psychoactive products from an unauthorised place and selling approved product without a licence.