Alkyl Nitrites ('poppers')


  • Not controlled under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 therefore are not illegal to possess or supply under that legislation.
  • However – some issues surrounding the Medicines Act 1968 which may affect ability to supply. The Medicines Control Agency say that they consider poppers a medicine and therefore it could be that only licensed shops, such as chemists, can sell them. It is therefore illegal to sell them as inhalants, as this is medical, however many vendors sell them as room odourisers in an attempt to circumvents the law.
  • The Intoxicating Substances (Supply) Act 1985, which prohibited the supply of intoxicating substances to somene under the age of 18, has now been REPEALED.
  • A recent Court of Appeal decision that considered whether Nitrous Oxide fell within the remit of the Psychoactive Substances Act 2016 (PSA 2016) may have affected the legal status of poppers. Parliament was clear when debating the PSA 2016 that poppers did not fall within the legislation as it was considered that alkyl nitrates did not have a direct effect on the central nervous system but rather an indirect effect, and so were practically exempt from the PSA 2016 as the definition of a 'psychoactive susbtance' was limited to substances that directly affected the system. However, the Court of Appeal decision widened the definition of a 'psychoactive susbstance' to incude substances that had an indirect effect, meaning that poppers could come within the remit of the PSA 2016. We are undertaking research into the effect of the Court of Appeal decision and will update this page shortly.