Burnham: No to poppers ban

Share this article

MP Andy Burnham is leading calls for poppers to be exempt from government plans to ban psychoactive substances.

The Leigh MP argues that there is ‘no evidence of harm” from years of use.

Poppers are commonly used by gay men but side effects can include a head-rush, chemical burns and a rash around the nose and mouth, and feelings of sickness and faintness. It can cause death if swallowed or if used by individuals with heart problems.

But Mr Burnham, Shadow Home Secretary, believes banning poppers could “criminalise a community for no good reason”.

A spokesman for him said: “Labour has a clear position of judging drugs policy according to harm caused. We will always look at the evidence and as there is no evidence of harm.

“Andy Burnham is clear that this would be a backwards step as it may subject people to increased harm through the emergence of a black market as well as a waste of police time.

“It would criminalise a community for no good reason. That’s why we’ll be urging the Government to think again.”

Home Secretary Theresa May is currently pushing ahead with legislation which would 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 has opted to push ahead regardless.

Earlier this week, Mr Burnham asked for an amendment to the Psychoactive Substances Bill to exempt poppers. The amendment was tabled by junior shadow ministers Lyn Brown and Andrew Gwynne. The Psychoactive Substances Bill is set to come before the Commons on January 20. Conservative MP Mike Freer also called for the government to reconsider the impending ban on poppers.