Former Australian Federal Police Commissioner Mick Palmer has slammed the Therapeutic Goods Administration’s move to ban amyl, saying the move would have no effect.

Earlier this month the TGA moved to ban nitrate inhalants, colloquially known as poppers, in Australia – reclassifying them into the same category as recreational substances ranging from marijuana to heroin.

Palmer was asked about the ban at the National Press Club on Tuesday where he criticised the ban, though admitted he is “not an expert”, The Guardian reported.

“I don’t think that a ban would be effective.

“No other ban has been effective. Why would this one?” Palmer said.

“Nothing we’ve banned for the illicit drug marketplace has had much difference and this will be no different.”

The TGA’s decision said the poppers bear “numerous risks of harms with little or no therapeutic benefit” and that “risks include illicit use for euphoric and muscle relaxant effects”.

“Its role as a blood vessel dilator and muscle relaxant have enabled an entire generation of gay men – or anyone that has wanted to explore butt stuff – to comfortably have sex,” said Steve Spencer, writing in support of poppers for the Star Observer.

“They’ve been in our bedrooms long enough, and it’s time to let the adults decide what is best for us, it’s time for queers to decide what’s best for us.”

Health researcher Daniel Reeders said the ban “will expose a historically marginalised, stigmatised and criminalised community to a new vulnerability to criminal prosecution.”

“Poppers have been in use for nearly five decades with very few reports of serious harm, and recent case reports describe a previously undocumented form of harm,” Reeders writes.

“This suggests the harm is the result of the reformulated products, which were only adopted due to regulatory action.”

Palmer appeared alongside Noffs Foundation chief Matt Noffs to urge a rethink of our approach to the substance use, saying harm minimisation has proven to be more effective than regulation and policing.

Australia is in the midst of a debate over harm minimisation versus ‘zero tolerance’ policing of drugs following the deaths of two attendees of music festival Defqon.1 last week.

New South Wales Premier Gladys Berijiklian has vowed to put an end to the festival rather than consider a national pill-testing rollout at festivals despite a successful trial at Canberra’s Groovin’ the Moo earlier this year.

Palmer said he is personally in favour of decriminalisation of drugs for “use and possession”.

“Without question, it seems to me that the perception of community fear drives political resistance to change,” he said.

“As a leading European politician said some years ago, we all know what to do, we just don’t know how to get re-elected after we do it.”

Spencer has initiated a petition calling on the TGA to reverse the decision to ban poppers.

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