Culture

The Government Might Loosen Its Legislative Muscles Over Potential Poppers Ban

Bottoms up (but please don't drink amyl).

Poppers, amyl

Good news, lovers of dance music, anal sex, or both: poppers/amyl won’t be illegal anytime soon.

Back in September, the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) — a regulatory body of the Department of Health — proposed that poppers should be elevated from a Schedule 4 substance to Schedule 9, the same category as heroin or cocaine.

In short, that’d make it a criminal offence to use, sell or possess poppers — currently, it’s illegal to recreationally use them, but the small bottles are readily findable in sex shops, sold as leather or VHS cleaner.

The report was controversial at release. Speaking to Junkee, Sydney GP and gay men’s health worker Brad MacKay didn’t deny the potential various health risks in using poppers (which you can read more about here), but argued that the TGA’s recommendations were far too punitive.

The TGA’s proposal also caused a stir within the LBGTIQ community, with one The Star Observer op-ed calling the ban a “war on bottoms”. An ongoing Change.org petition against the ban currently has 4,800 signatures.

It appears that the TGA has been listening, as yesterday they released a statement to announce it was postponing any ruling on poppers to allow for “further public consultation”. Significantly, it cites a “need to balance” the weight of potential health risks against the fact that poppers “have significant use among a number of groups in the Australian community”.

Previously, a decision was slated to be made next Thursday 29 November. Instead, the TGA will release a paper on that date outlining poppers’ potential futures, ranging from unrestricted sale to prescription-only access or pharmacist-only access.

The TGA is asking for your feelings via formal submissions before 15 January, though public meetings will also be held in Melbourne and Sydney early next year.