The people have spoken: Australia’s ban on amyl nitrite is being reconsidered

The war on drugs in Australia is an endless saga and alongside the pill testing controversy, the debate surrounding the use and distribution of amyl nitrite has been put to public opinion.

Amyl nitrite (aka poppers or leather cleaner) is an inhalent that is used widely in the LGBTQ community as a muscle relaxant, however, it recently came under fire from The Australian Therapeutic Goods Regulator (TGA) after an increase in reports of recreational use and misuse.

Photo: Verywell

Any changes to the unavailability of amyl nitrate could lead people to purchase these substances through unregulated and possibly illegal sources.

Had their proposal to crack down on the use of the substance gone through, it would have been grouped in as a Schedule 9 Prohibited Substance – alongside MDMA, DMT and heroin – instead of under a Schedule 2 or 3 which represent substantially safer pharmacy medicines.

After two public meetings and over 70 submissions, the TGA has given in to the pressures of the public and have made plans to backtrack on their original proposal. They say that “banning the use of amyl nitrites was considered not acceptable as their use was said to help reduce harms such as anal injury and possible bloodborne disease transmission during anal sex”. 

Dr Brad McKay told triple j’s Hack program that “the risks of [using amyl] are really quite small, this is why I kick up a fuss. This isn’t a major health issue, this isn’t a major health problem we need to focus on”.

While there is still a way to go with legislation, a decision on the future of poppers is expected to be made by June this year.