Home Office minister Karen Bradley MP announced today that poppers will not be banned from sale in April. She has accepted the advice from the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD) that poppers are not psychoactive and therefore should not come within the scope of the Psychoactive Substances Act, which will ban a whole range of psychoactive substances from sale next month.
We’re pleased that the Government has finally ended the confusion on the status of poppers. We have been lobbying the Home Office Ministers responsible for the law asking them to seek expert advice on whether poppers are actually psychoactive. Although we did not get an answer up front, we did gain a commitment from the Government for a review of the harm caused by poppers that started in February, where we urged them not only to look at the risks to health, but also whether they were psychoactive at all.
Our concern was that this review was going to take until the summer, which meant the ban would go ahead in April and expose many gay and bi men, and others who use poppers for sex, to buy them from illegal drug suppliers, which could have put their health at risk. So we’re glad Karen Bradley MP acted quickly as soon as the ACMD published their evidence on poppers, and prevented this.
Of course, it’s still important that people who use poppers for sex do so safely, as the evidence shows that having anal sex without a condom while using poppers significantly increases the risk of HIV transmission if your partner is HIV positive.
But it always seemed clear to us from the evidence that the health risks from poppers were low, unlike the dangerous psychoactive substances this law was really targeting. Now the focus can be on ensuring that those dangerous substances are removed from sale, rather than being unnecessarily distracted by a substance which has for years been used in a largely safe way by gay and bi men.