A junior minister has spoken of his pride after a new blanket ban on drugs such as poppers was passed by the government.
Home Office minister Mike Penning – who helped push through the bill – claims that the that the the blanket ban making all psychoactive substances illegal is “enormously important”, as it will save “hundreds of lives”.
“I will be very proud when this statute goes through with my name over it,” he told Hemel Today.
“It will save hundreds of lives, not just in my constituency, but across the country.
“These substances are taken – not just by young people – and people think, one, they are legal and, two, they are safe. They are neither.
Despite his “pride”, the Hemel MP was keen to point out that the government was offering a compromise – as poppers will be reviewed to see whether they can be made exempt.
“Poppers are banned. There have been 20 deaths in the UK because of them. But there will be medical research to decide if they can be exempt.
“I think the gay community in particular are in support of that.”
Parliament voted last week to approve a blanket ‘legal highs’ ban that will prohibit the sale of drugs including alkyl nitrites, commonly used by gay men to help relax the anal sphincter muscles for anal sex.
Home Secretary Theresa May pushed through the legislation to make poppers illegal alongside substances such as nitrous oxide (laughing gas).
However, the government this week set out plans to review the poppers decision – after pressure from the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD), the Commons Home Affairs Select Committee, and backbench Tory MPs.
Experts had called for a legal exemption for poppers, over fears a ban could do more harm than good in the gay community.
Crispin Blunt, the Conservative MP for Reigate, made headlines last week when he told Parliament about his own use of poppers.
“I use poppers – I out myself as a poppers user, and would be directly affected by this legislation,” he said.
“I’m astonished to find it’s proposing to be banned, and frankly so I think would many other gay men.”