Alkyl nitrites enthusiasts in the U.K. can exhale (and inhale, potentially)—the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD) has advised that the inhalants known informally as poppers are not psychoactive, thus they “do not fall within the scope of the current definition of a ‘psychoactive substance’ in the Psychoactive Substances Act 2016.” A ban on producing, supplying, and importing various psychoactive substances in the U.K., including “legal highs” like synthetic cannabinoids, is set to go into effect on April 1.
The inclusion of poppers in the ban famously caused a stir when MP Crispin Blunt told the House of Commons in January, “I use poppers. I out myself as a popper user.” What a rush that was!
The ACMD has produced a 9-page document to argue against banning poppers. You’d be hard-pressed to find a more thorough exploration of the alkyl nitrites experience outside of taking a hit and letting the room warp and existence warble while you come as close as humanly possible to laughing your literal head off. Here’s a fun fact from the letter, regarding the specific physiological effects of poppers:
The brain perceives a transient “rush” or “high” as an indirect effect caused by increased blood flow caused by the dilation of blood vessels in brain and periphery. The effects of “poppers” on blood vessels in the brain should be considered to be “peripheral” as these lie outside the “blood-brain barrier.”
The Home Office responded to Buzzfeed’s request for a comment by saying, “We have noted the advice of the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs and we intend to respond shortly.”
In January of this year Home Office minister Mike Penning said that the Government “recognizes that representations have been made to the effect that ‘poppers’ have a beneficial health and relationship effect in enabling anal sex for some men who have sex with men, amid concern about the impact of the ban on these men.”
He said the Home Office would consider “whether there is evidence to support these claims and, if so, whether it is sufficient to justify exempting the alkyl nitrites group.”
Part of the ACMD’s argument is that since poppers aren’t psychoactive, they don’t even need an exemption. Poppers, at long last it seems, can just be what they are. Everything’s coming up poppers!