Why is the government so anti-pleasure, particularly for gay men? Much of the drive to ban legal highs has come from the Centre for Social Justice (CSJ), a rightwing thinktank that has consistently misled the public and government about the harms of legal highs. These claims have been refuted by DrugScience.
One of CSJ’s main attacks is on what it calls the “loosening” of laws on moral values in the past decades, leading to the erosion of the family. The acceptance of homosexuality is one of its main concerns. It is hard not to conclude that the government shares this opinion and that the poppers ban is in fact an attempt to deter – or even punish – men who enjoy having sex with men.
This is the conspiracy theory explanation, but we must also consider that the government is confused. It may think nitric oxide is the same as nitrous oxide. Confidence in its reasoning is not encouraged by the fact that at the first reading of the psychoactive substances bill, government spokespeople several times referred to a ban on nitrates, which are fertilisers, not nitrites.
Whatever the reasoning behind the popper ban, it is fundamentally flawed. Poppers should be removed from the psychoactive substances bill, though it would be much more honest to scrap the whole legislation as it is so lacking in justification and logic.