On Sept. 14, Australia’s Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) — sort of the equivalent of the United States’ Food and Drug Administration — published an interim decision banning amyl nitrite, better known as poppers. The TGA also recommended classifying nitrite inhalants as Schedule 9, the same as heroin (and another miscategorized drug, marijuana). But the LGBTQ community is fighting back against the poppers ban, and may just get it reversed.
Though the queer community — mostly men who have sex with men — are the main consumers of poppers, a 2016 study noted a 21% increase in poppers use from the previous year. The TGA’s new recommendation claims the poppers ban is necessary because use of the drug is expanding to “the community more generally.” (Or, in other words, “straight people.”)
While the poppers ban is currently just an interim decision, the TGA is accepting public comment until Oct. 11. If the Australian government accepts the TGA’s recommendation, the poppers ban would officially start on Feb. 1, 2019.
People can write in to register their objections to the poppers ban via the TGA’s website or via the email address firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line “Proposed Amendments to the Poisons Standard Medicines,” along with a TGA coversheet (available here). Submissions are suggested to include “suggested improvements to the proposed amendment” and/or “An assessment of how the proposed change will impact on you.”
There is also a change.org petition urging the TGA to rescind its recommendation for a poppers ban. The petition was created by activist Steven Spencer, who writes, “The TGA has proven capable of regulating Viagra (a comparably dangerous substance) for the benefit of active partners, we believe the TGA should acknowledge the need for poppers and regulate the substance for safe use by receptive partners. Poppers have been used safely for decades — its use should be legitimized not criminalized.”
Thankfully, there is precedent for reversing a poppers ban. In 2016 the United Kingdom proposed a similar ban, but the decision was reversed after several Members of Parliament said they were regular poppers users.