Psychoactive Substances Bill (HL)

Home Office written question – answered on 28th January 2016.

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Photo of David Burrowes David Burrowes Conservative, Enfield, Southgate

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, if she will suspend the powers of enforcement contained in the Psychoactive Substances Bill in relation to alkyl nitrates pending the outcome of the review announced in response to the Home Affairs Select Committee First Report of Session 2015-16, published on 23 October 2015.

Photo of Mike Penning Mike Penning The Minister of State, Home Department, The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice

Holding answer received on 28 January 2016

Pending the outcome of the review announced in the response to the report of the Home Affairs Select Committee, we will seek to ensure a proportionate response to the sale of poppers by all those enforcing the legislation and that this approach is reflected in the guidance currently being drafted by enforcement partners.

The Bill has lower penalties than the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 and provides for civil sanctions, as an alternative to a criminal prosecution, to enable law enforcement agencies to adopt a graded response in tackling the trade in the range of psychoactive substances. The Bill does not criminalise simple possession of poppers and this will also be borne in mind by partners when enforcing the legislation.

In consultation with the Department of Health and the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), we will consider whether there is evidence to support the claims that ‘poppers’ have a beneficial health and relationship effect and, if so, whether it is sufficient to justify exempting the alkyl nitrites group (or individual substances in the group).

Should we conclude that a case has been made to include alkyl nitrites in the list of exempted substances, we intend to complete this consideration in time to enable any such draft regulations to be laid before both Houses and approved before the summer recess.

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