An 18-year-old man in Brisbane has been fined $450 for attempting to carry a bottle of amyl, also known as poppers, into a Brisbane music festival.
The man was seen by five Queensland police officers concealing something when arriving at FOMO Festival in Brisbane in January, News Corp’s Sunshine Coast Daily reported.
He appeared in court where he pleaded guilty to one count of possessing a restricted substance. He was fined $450 but no conviction was recorded.
The news comes as the TGA considers proposed changes to the scheduling of alkyl nitrites, with the regulatory body holding a community consultation in Melbourne earlier this month.
The TGA proposed late last year that the inhalants be recategorised as a Schedule 9 Prohibited Substance, which would place it in the same category as heroin.
“It’s pretty concerning that the TGA can’t rule out Schedule 9,” queer activist Rhys Kierkegaard said at the consultation.
“We’ve heard evidence today that one third of queer men are using poppers, to make these people criminals is nothing short of homophobic.”
“The TGA should be acknowledged for the fact that they’ve held these consultations, and that they’re being quite candid in saying that the original interim decision wasn’t okay,” said Paul Kidd, who is spokesperson for the Nitrites Action Group, which was set up as an activist response to the TGA’s decision.
“We’ve heard over the last few months lots of personal stories from people that have contacted me and told me that without poppers, that they couldn’t enjoy sex,” Kidd said.
“We’re hopeful of a good outcome here.”
Advocates say that alkyl nitrites being changed to a Schedule 9 Prohibited Substance, thereby banning poppers outright, could lead to an increase in fines and the possibility of jail time for someone in possession of the inhalants.
They have warned the TGA that criminalising the substance could have a number of flow-on effects, potentially increasing risk rather than minimising it.
“An effective doctor-patient relationship is built on trust and full disclosure, and the ban could make patients think twice about telling their doctor about their poppers use,” Cornelisse said.
“Men who currently use poppers for more adventurous sexual encounters might consider illicit drugs for the same purposes – with greater risks of overdose and dependence,” said sexual health physician Vincent Cornelisse last year, following a meeting with the TGA.
“Our goal in the submission was to quantify the risks based on evidence, and to highlight the benefits and purposes of poppers use,” said community health advocate Daniel Reeders at the time.
“We are hopeful this meeting signals the TGA are considering alternatives to prohibition that acknowledge queer and party-goer communities are capable of responsibly managing health risks.
“But over 90,000 gay and bisexual men have used poppers in the last six months, and that’s a lot of people who would, almost overnight, become liable to fines or even prison.”