In a surprising turn, the UK government has dropped plans to ban poppers.
Back in January, British politicians voted to approve a ban on so-called “legal highs”, which was set to become law in April. However, Home Secretary Theresa May conceded that poppers would be reviewed before this happened.
Home Office minister Karen Bradley confirmed in a letter to the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs: “I understand that the Council has now advanced its understanding of the psychoactivity of the alkyl nitrites group under the Act and concluded that only substances that directly stimulate or depress the central nervous system are psychoactive under the Act. Having given due consideration, the Government agrees with your advice and interpretation of the definition.”
“We do so in the understanding that “poppers” have these unique indirect effects. Our understanding is that this approach does not have any further implications for the operation of the Act and that other substances that the Act intends to cover are not affected. We remain confident that the psychoactivity of those substances can be established under the definition in the Act. We will ask law enforcement agencies to be guided by our agreement with your advice.”
“Our acceptance of your advice brings to an end the review process we were undertaking in parallel to consider the case for a bespoke exemption for the alkyl nitrites group under the Act on the basis of their beneficial and relationship effects. We will ensure that our messaging across government and its agencies is updated. The ACMD advise that the reports of ocular damage though rare should be carefully monitored. Together with Government, I ask that the ACMD keep a check on this as well.”