Tory MP Crispin Blunt has revealed that he takes the drugs known as poppers – as the government pushes to include them in a blanket ban.
Parliament will vote today on a blanket ‘legal highs’ ban that will prohibit drugs including alkyl nitrites, commonly used by gay men.
Home Secretary Theresa May will today push ahead with legislation to tackle legal highs by implementing a blanket ban on the sale of “psychoactive substances” – with those found guilty of selling them facing up to seven years in jail.
Under the legislation, the drugs commonly known as poppers would be made illegal alongside substances such as nitrous oxide (laughing gas).
The Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD) and the Commons Home Affairs Select Committee both recommended that poppers – commonly used among men engaging in anal sex – should be exempt from the ban – but the government is today pushing ahead with a vote on the bill.
However, Crispin Blunt, the Conservative MP for Reigate, came out against his own government’s plan today, labelling it “fantastically stupid”.
He said: “There are some times when something is proposed that becomes personal to you, and you realise the government is about to do something fantastically stupid. I think in those circumstances one has a duty to speak up.
“I use poppers – I out myself as a poppers user, and would be directly affected by this legislation.
“I’m astonished to find it’s proposing to be banned, and frankly so I think would many other gay men.”
He added: “If I follow my own reaction to this, it simply serves to bring the whole law into disrepute.”
Another Tory MP, Michael Fabricant, added that he had “tried” poppers – but not for anal sex.
A Home Office minister today has explained that poppers can have “beneficial” effects for men having anal sex – hinting at an eventual U-turn ahead of the vote to ban them.
Home Office minister Mike Penning revealed: “The Government recognises that representations have been made to the effect that ‘poppers’ have a beneficial health and relationship effect in enabling anal sex for some men who have sex with men, amid concern about the impact of the ban on these men.
“In consultation with the Department of Health and the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), the Home Office will now consider whether there is evidence to support these claims and, if so, whether it is sufficient to justify exempting the alkyl nitrites group.”
He added that the drugs could be exempted at a later date even if the bill passes, adding: “The Bill enables the Home Secretary (after statutory consultation with the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs)… to add to the list of exempted substances to the Bill.
“The Government intends to complete such consideration in time to enable any such draft regulations to be laid before both Houses and approved before the summer recess should the Government conclude that a case had been made to include alkyl nitrites in the list of exempted substances.”