To: "Hon. Todd McClay"
Subject: RE: Animal testing for human recreation.
Thank you for your emails regarding the Psychoactive Substances Bill.
Before continuing, however, I note that the charity, HUHA (Help You Help Animals), has organised street protests against the animal testing that 'will' occur under this legislation, and, as importantly, against the principle legislated (see below); the protests are in the main centres on 30 July, with the Wellington protest ending on the steps of the Fortress of Legislation: I hope you are planning to front up to that protest and be accountable to those you supposedly represent, but whom you have fallen so short of.
You have said that this legislation is being passed so children can get high. This could not be further from the truth. Parliament has been emphatic that no such products should be used by minors, and upon taking over responsibility for this Bill I quickly moved to clarify that supply to a minor under 18 in any circumstance is an offence, regardless of where it takes place. The high degree of accessibility via dairies that has existed to date is also removed from the point of enactment, so children will not continue to see such products in these environments, removing the ˜normalising context.
I've not googled your age, Todd, but unless you've weathered well, you're about my age, and from that perspective, eighteen year olds are kids. Although if you think about it, the fact we are talking about adults here, makes the vote of the 119 uninformed members who've enacted this infamy even worse.
While your position on animal testing is clear and I appreciate the concerns you have raised, I believe that the issue of human health needs to be carefully and continuously considered. As Associate Minister of Health I have a duty to consider all aspects of human health and have sought expert medical and scientific advice.
Let's stop you there for a start. This is not a public health issue. We have already established this is about adults choosing, note that word, choosing to get stoned on the weekend. That is not a matter of public health, that is a matter of individual choice, and as the mainstream party that supposedly represents small government and individual responsibility, it is significant you don't understand that.
The issue of animal testing has had a high profile, and appropriately so. I am not a supporter of animal testing, nor are any of my colleagues. Any testing regime will be determined by an expert advisory group, tasked with identifying all possible alternatives to animal testing, and will be required to review these tests frequently and at least on an annual basis. It is my hope that a testing regime can be established, if not now, then in the near future, that will not involve any animal testing. During consideration of the Select Committee I proposed an amendment that where a test that does not require animals is available then it must be used. This amendment was adopted unanimously by the Committee and means that where the outcome of an alternative test offers the same certainty then tests on animals cannot be used. The law as adopted by parliament means that manufacturers will not have a choice to use animals in place of another test agreed by the Expert Committee.
I am not aware of any previous process that has so explicitly set out a requirement for alternatives to animal testing to be identified and for this process to be an ongoing requirement. I proposed this amendment in good faith and as a compromise so that Parliament's desire for alternatives to be found and used would be clear.
Prior of answering to the above, I'm going to take one step back to the time just before my first correspondence with you. Both my wife and I give annually to animal charities. I have spent some part of my life loosely involved in the campaign to stop animal testing, world-wide, for matters that are not of public health, such as here. Can you imagine the bitterness and frustration for people such as myself who after all this time, making major gains getting private companies to stop their animal testing on shampoos, cosmetics, et al, to then see my government vote in animal testing for party pills? Think about that. Because no one thought about that when the Fortress was voting: it was all about the 'world-first' on the day, and political egos.
To your points. I have read experts on this, and I urge you to look up the Seven Sharp clip with the scientist that aired on the Thursday night this Act was enacted: there will be animal testing under this Act. Although even that fact is not all that is on the laboratory table here.
Stating the case clearly: regardless of the animals to be tortured under this legislation, for no good purpose other than adults can choose to recreate as stoners on Friday night, speaking from the point of view of an anti-vivisection campaigner, this legislation now creates the awful principle that the humane treatment of animals comes second to human recreation. Shame on all the 119 monsters who have put this principle into law. We're not talking about the treatment of cancer here, we're talking about party bloody pills.
This system of representative democracy simply cannot work when the masters of it are so uninformed on the law they are making. (In your other portfolio, the new LTC regime is another example of mind-numbingly stupid law-making, but more on that separately).
To the real points of this response, and what you missed entirely in your reply.
You note in your blog that prohibition doesn't work. In the case of so called 'legal highs' this seems to be the experience of almost every country that has tried to restrict these products. The Psychoactive Substances Act means that manufacturers and developers of psychoactive substances are being given the opportunity to develop low-risk products, rather than have a blanket ban applied outright. To enable this regime, products must be thoroughly tested so that we can be sure that they pose only a low level of harm. Exactly what tests will be required now, and in the future, will be a decision for the experts on the Expert Advisory Committee.
Not one member of the infamous 119 who have voted for this has convinced me they understand what is meant by 'safe' in this Act: when I tried to pin Judith Collins down on it, she left the debate, indicating how it is simply a mantra you've all been taught to use. So to your own terms, you refer here to 'low risk': well what does that mean please? In my original letter I gave you the no risk alternative to animal testing of these dreadful synthetics, being the decrimilisation of the for 6,000 year tested cannabis.
In their own submission against animal testing in this Act, HUHA stated the following:
“The scientific evidence shows clearly that this is not a choice between the safety of people versus the safety of animals. Testing on animals does not give a direct indication of how a compound will react in people, as just one example look at Theobromine a compound found in cocoa, it is deadly toxic to dogs in small amounts, and yet can be eaten in abundance with no ill effect to people. Recent studies have proven that non animal testing in the lab can give a more species specific result. It can in fact be safer.’
Given this statement is particularly so in the case of psychoactive substances, can I have your response to that please?
Getting back to my own terms, as I started in my initial correspondence, and as I put to Russel Norman who was against animal testing, and for decriminalisation of cannabis, yet still voted for this:
Can I further have your response to that statement please?
I don't know what the Act means by it either; there are two options:
1. As above, it means non-toxic to the human body, while still being psychoactive - that is, nothing changes with this Act, there will still be 'young' adults getting stoned. Thus, per my above position, then this can be achieved without a single beagle - or other animal - being breed in a heartless dog factory and tortured, merely by decriminalising the natural plant cannabis.
2. If 'safe' means non-psychoactive, as Larry Williams interprets it on NewsTalkZB, then this Act is only prohibition by stealth, under which the malice of the principle created that human recreation comes before animal welfare, becomes something very cynical and quite obscene.
So clarification please: 'safe', what does it mean? Why not decriminalisation?
Finally, the humane society doesn't want a bar of animal testing for party pills, so if the Green Amendment is not enacted, then I expect you, and the other 118 MP's, to be present at the first animal testing that occurs because of this hideous Act:
Mark Hubbard - Pissed Off.
(Out-dated, but) Why is Psychoactive Substances Bill a Conscience Vote?
My Challenge to Every MP About To Vote For Psychoactive Substances Bill - Go to Animal Test.
The Logical Argument Against Animal Testing In The Psychoactive Substances Bill That No MP Will Answer To.