Selling poppers in the UK could land you in jail for seven years, according to new legislation being enacted by the Government.
Home Office Minister Mike Penning has reportedly said he is insistent that amyl nitrates, widely used in the British LGBTI community, must come under new legislation that bans ‘legal highs’.
Lawmakers are banning the drug under a ‘blanket ban’ on the production, distribution, sale and supply of psychoactive substances. This ban will cover many substances including laughing gas, salvia and vanilla sky, but alcohol, nicotine and caffeine are exempt.
The possession with an intent to supply poppers is seven years in prison.
Gay rights activists, as well as a committee looking over the bill, argued poppers are ‘not seen to be capable of having harmful effects sufficient to constitute a societal problem’.
David Bridle, managing editor at London gay scene magazine Boyz, said at a meeting held last night (9 November) with the minister, LGBTI activists and the National AIDS Trust that it made sense for poppers to be regulated under current sex shop licensing and therefore continuing to be available to over 18 gay men as the sex tool they have been for over 30 years.
‘The minister was unmoved, even after I explained our Boyz readers and others in the gay community were “gobsmacked” this Conservative government (of equal marriage and other pro-gay policies) was banning poppers,’ he said.
Penning has previously said the Psychoactive Substances Bill will ‘fundamentally change the way we tackle new psychoactive substances’.
‘It will put an end to the game of cat and mouse in which new drugs appear on the market more quickly than Government can identify and ban them’.
Activists are now appealing for a review, but as it stands now, poppers will be banned in the UK for sale or purchase. This includes importing from online websites from next year.
The law will be enacted by trading standards officers from April 2016.
In a statement to Gay Star News, Penning said: ‘The Psychoactive Substances Bill has been the subject of wide ranging public and parliamentary scrutiny and is based on the advice of medical and scientific experts.
‘The Bill will deliver on the Government’s commitment for a blanket ban on the production, supply and importation of harmful psychoactive substances, which have contributed to the unnecessary and tragic deaths of 129 people in Britain last year.’
The last time poppers were linked to early deaths in the UK was in 2013, with two people dying with amyl nitrates in their system according to the Office for National Statistics. However, these were not the only harmful drugs in their body.
When we asked the Home Office whether having a bottle of poppers with an intent to supply free of charge or as communal use, they said they would need to clarify where officials stand on this issue. And then when we asked whether carrying a bottle of poppers into the country would result in a warning or fine, that also needed clarification.
The Home Office would also not go into detail about how many bottles you would have to own to imply ‘possession with an intent to supply’.