Associate Health Minister Peter Dunne today announced that he will establish an independent expert committee early next year to set the approval standards legal highs will need to meet.
Mr Dunne said he had directed the Ministry of Health to develop a regulatory regime consistent with international best practice, avoiding animal testing wherever possible.
He confirmed that he has ruled out the controversial LD50 test, but said that it was still early in the process of developing the new regime and no other decisions had been made.
“I have said all along that safety is paramount. We might not like these substances, but if they are not going to be illegal, then they need to be safe.”
Mr Dunne said a number of alternatives to animal tests have already been identified.
“What I need to know from officials is if a combination of these tests will be effective in proving the safety of psychoactive substances,” he said.
“This regime is being brought in after a considerable outcry from New Zealanders about their concerns around the safety of young New Zealanders using unregulated and unknown legal highs, and I make no apologies for seeking to ensure that these substances are safe.”