B.C. company sues as ‘poppers’ stripped from Canadian shelves 0
Fourteen B.C. retailers, one manufacturer and two distributors of what Health Canada calls ‘poppers’ have voluntarily surrendered their products, like this 'Jungle Juice' to the government after a crackdown this year. (PHOTO HEALTHYCANADIANS.GC.CA)
Customers at sex shops looking for the rush of a “popper” or leather cleaning products to maintain their toys will now have to go abroad.
The products have been sold across the Lower Mainland for decades even though alkyl nitrite products — sold as leather cleaners or “muscle relaxants” in sex stores — have always been forbidden within the country, according to Health Canada, which cites potentially fatal consequences.
The health authority said its “actions” are often driven by complaints, so it finally cracked down in June, pulling all alkyl nitrite products from 14 B.C. sex stores, two distributors and a manufacturer — following one complaint it received earlier this year.
“Should the department find that a retailer continues to sell a product after they have been warned, health Canada may take a number of compliance and enforcement actions that include stop sales, recalls, voluntary forfeitures detention or disposal,” Health Canada said by email.
Health Canada said a violation of those orders could mean a $500 fine or three months’ imprisonment for a first offence.
That said, no deaths or injuries have been reported to date, according to the government.
Some retailers have reported numerous customers now going store-to-store looking for the products that typically retail for $20.
Carolyn Syme, operations manager at North Vancouver retailer Love Nest, said “poppers” have been sold over the counter for at least 15 years at her shop without problems.
That was until inspectors came looking for the products this summer.
“Rush, Ultra Rush and Jungle Juice have all been on the market for years. Health Canada has decided, they figured, it’s a very dangerous drug,” she said.
“You do inhale it, and it’s actually a muscle relaxant. It’s like any drug. It can work one way or it can work the other way, depending on how much you take and what you mix it with. But I’ve never heard of anybody being injured from it.”
An employee at the Male and Female Harmony Store, which had products in its three locations in B.C. pulled, said the store has lost “approximately $200” in weekly revenue.
“The only adverse side effect I’ve ever heard of is a headache, but that can come from any medication,” the employee said.
“I had customers come in every single night to buy a bottle, religiously.”
The only manufacturer of alkyl nitrite products Health Canada knows of in the country, Delta’s Lockerroom Marketing Ltd., is now suing.
Lockerroom lawyer Richard Fowler said the nearly 4,000 products he insists were leather cleaners — used to clean clothing worn in sexual fetishes, such as bondage — were voluntarily surrendered to Health Canada in May.
He argued the company has never sold the product as a drug, which would be a product intended to “restore, correct or modify” bodily functions. But rather, the company sold sex toys and offered leather cleaners as a supplement to maintain those products.
“We make absolutely clear (inhaling) is not the intended use of the product in the same way the intended use of gasoline, and any number of solvents sold at hardware stores … is not to restore, modify or correct organic function,” he said.
“But if abused, that’s what it can do.”