Home Office: No decision taken on toughening law against poppers
The Home Office has told PinkNews that it’s “too early” to say if further restrictions are to be placed on the use of poppers, following the publication of a report into legal highs.
The report has called for a blanket ban on all brain-altering drugs in a bid to tackle legal highs.
The government said it will consider legislation introduced in Ireland four years ago that bans the sale of all “psychoactive” substances but exempts some, such as alcohol and tobacco.
It is illegal to sell amyl nitrite (poppers) for human consumption in the UK but they are often sold in sex shops and gay venues as “air fresheners”.
On Thursday, the Home Office told PinkNews that it was “too early” to say if further restrictions would include poppers and that the scope of a potential blanket ban on legal highs was “still to be decided”.
The intoxicating nature of poppers, risks to health and potential social harms, are all issues that need to be considered, officials said.
It showed that drug use in the past year amongst gay and bisexual men was three times higher (33%) than use amongst heterosexual men (11.1%). For lesbian and bisexual women use was more than four times as high (22.9%) than for heterosexual women (5.1%).
Just as for heterosexuals, the most commonly used illicit drug amongst LGB people is cannabis, used by around 1 in 5 gay or bi men, and 1 in 6 lesbian or bi women.
Poppers are the second most commonly used drug by gay and bi men, and 25 times more common than amongst straight men.
A separate report published by the Home Office today found that there is “no obvious” link between tough laws and levels of illegal drug use.
Liberal Democrat Home Office Minister Norman Baker said the report, comparing the UK with other countries, should end “mindless rhetoric” on drugs policy.
He accused the Conservatives of “suppressing” the findings for months.
Tory MP Michael Ellis said the Lib Dems had “hijacked” it for political gain.
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Lib Dem Crime and Prevention Minister Norman Baker said: “The Liberal Democrats believe drugs policy should be based on evidence, not dogma or the desire to sound tough. If you are anti-drugs you should be pro-reform.
“For too long successive governments have been unwilling to look at the evidence. This comprehensive report shows that other ways of tackling drug addiction and supply can save lives and cut crime.
“It’s time for a radical change in British drugs policy. The fact is we should spend more time and effort cracking down on the Mr Bigs’ and criminal gangs who traffic drugs than users and addicts who should be helped to recover, not put behind bars.”
A Home Office spokesperson said: “This government has absolutely no intention of decriminalising drugs.
“Our drugs strategy is working and there is a long-term downward trend in drug misuse in the UK.”