Labour MP Catherine West has criticised the new Psychoactive Substances Bill, suggesting it will “criminalise” large sections of the LGBT community.
The bill, which seeks to ban legal highs, will include alkyl nitrites, commonly known as ‘poppers’, after a vote to exclude them from the bill failed to pass on Wednesday.
From April 1, when the bill is due to come into effect, anyone caught selling the drug could face up to seven years in prison.
Catherine, MP for Hornsey & Wood Green, has now made a formal representation to Home Secretary Theresa May, urging her to exempt alkyl nitrites from the bill.
In her letter, she wrote: “I have been contacted by scores of constituents deeply concerned by this Government’s proposals.
“They, like me, agree with the view of the leading charity, the National Aids Trust, which argue that the successful passage of this bill without exemption for alkyl nitrites poses a serious health risk to the LGBT community.
“It will in effect criminalise large sections of the LGBT community and risk encouraging users to begin obtaining these compounds illegally, leading to increased likelihood of Class A and Class B drug use.”
Mike Freer, MP for Finchley & Golders Green, has also called for the substance to be excluded from the bill.
He argued that ‘poppers’ were “integral to facilitating and enjoying a healthy sex life” for many gay men.