The federal government is looking likely to keep alkyl nitrates – also known as amyls or poppers – legal in the wake of a new statement from the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA).
The government last year announced its intention to reclassify poppers as Schedule 9, the same legal category as MDMA and heroin.
The TGA accepted submissions from the public on the matter until January.
After receiving more than 70 written submissions, the TGA has backflipped on its original stance that poppers should be banned, Vice has reported.
Many submissions reportedly called the proposal homophobic, and raised concerns that injuries and infection transmissions could increase if people were forced to go without poppers for anal sex.
Acting CEO of the Australian Federation AIDS Organisations Heath Paynter said that a Schedule 9 classification would “criminalise the safe therapeutic use of poppers by a significant number of Australians” and “signal to the LGBTIQ community that their sexual practices are deviant.”
CEO of Thorne Harbour Health Simon Ruth asked the TGA: “don’t turn gay men, our businesses or young people into criminals,” “don’t force us into humiliating situations,” and “accept nitrites have a therapeutic value”.
Earlier this year, community members in Sydney and Melbourne attended public meetings to give their input on poppers.
The meetings heard that one in three queer men use the inhalants.
Earlier this year, a man was fined $450 for possessing a popper at a Brisbane music festival.
Poppers are generally considered safe, as long as they are not used in risky ways, such as along with other drugs.
Depending on the government’s decision on reclassifying them, they may well become easier to access than before.
Poppers could be registered as a Schedule 2 ‘pharmacy medicine’, which would make them purchasable off the shelf like condoms, or as a Schedule 3 ‘pharmacist only medicine’, which would require advice from a pharmacist.
The final decision is expected to be handed down in June.